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.
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
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.
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.
Remember the happy bits and focus on them.
Be there for each other...
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Friends. We moved when dd was weeks old and no family/friends anywhere near. Babies really are just hard and relentless, I found some people on mumsnet local and it improved my life a lot. My dh and I just can't spend all our time together now so I need a much bigger network than before. Also, get friends and family to visit and help, short term so she can feel like herself a bit more. Be clear that you need help otherwise they'll possibly come and not babysit etc. it gets better, but making friends takes time.
Just wanted to add that my DS cried mostly from over tiredness and over stimulation. He had no underlying medical condition though did have some episodes of bad wind which gripe water often helped us with. He also appeared to be quite frustrated a lot of the time. As he grew and became stronger and more mobile he became happier and happier and is now a really happy chappy.
If your DS is teething than you just have to play that one out I'm afraid. Anbesol and teething gels/granules are worth a try. Calpol can be a last resort if he seems in a lot of pain. Also those teethers that go in the freezer can give them some relief and be a distraction too. Best check the ages these things can be used from though as I can't remember.
Your story sounds very similar to mine. I had no support other than that from my husband. He too worked full time but did take unpaid leave some mornings when I really felt bad. Fortunately his company were very flexible and understanding.
I returned to work part time when my DS was just 4 months old as I couldn't bear being a full time mum.
Turned out I had PND which I struggled with for 2 long years. I wish I had sought help sooner than I did. In fact, I wish my DH had found me help sooner as I wasn't, in hindsight! acknowledging there was a problem. I now feel like I wasted those early days with my DS and feel like it was too hard to ever have any more children.
When you have no support motherhood can feel very tough and almost suffocating. You clearly are doing what you can, which is wonderful, but your wife may need more than this. Do encourage her to speak to her GP to check for signs of PND because its bloody miserable and worth sorting out ASAP. If it's not PND then look into trying to get more support and more breaks for her. Nursery is a great idea. Your wife will have some me-time which can really help to feel human again and appreciate time with the baby again. Hopefully at the baby groups she will also meet some good mummy friends where she can be completely honest about how she finds motherhood. I was surrounded by folks saying it was all rainbows and bunnies and that made me feel even worse!
My DS is now 2 and an absolute joy to be around. I love being his mum!
Good luck. Keep us posted!
My LO was in an awful state. Had silent reflux, two week into medication and was a different baby.
Look into that and also cow milk protien allergy. Maybe try a hydrolysed formula and see if it makes a difference?
It's a very rough time, and you sound like a very supportive partner. Keep it up!
I'd ask GP for an urgent paedetrician referral or take baby to A&E & they'll refer you. Best time to go is 7am in the morning.
Hello, congratulations on the birth of your son.
I'd like to also suggest silent reflux. I'm not an expert and my DS is only 10 wks old but he sounds (or did) like your son. Quite good at night but screaming in the day. He was diagnosed with silent reflux and now that he is on meds to help he is so much happier.
Best of luck and welcome to mumsnet!
two possibilities leap to mind
1) silent reflux. If you think he has symptoms of silent reflux other than the crying (google the symptoms - the main ones are distress during/after feeds and hating being horizontal), then speak to a GP about this. If they think it is reflux and suggest gaviscon, ask for ranitidine instead as it's far more effective.
However, silent reflux is actually pretty rare and often over diagnosed. So don't leap to that conclusion too quickly.
2) MUCH more likely - overtiredness. There is a sleep regression at 4 months (google it, very very common). It's due to a development leap and means they are not keen on sleep. For most babies this means short naps in the day and lots of waking in the night, however for yours it may mean refusing to sleep at all (or hardly at all) in the day and then conking out all night. And being horribly overtired during the day which means lots of crying and even harder to get to sleep.
How much does he nap in the day and how long does he sleep at night? babies his age need about 15 hours sleep a day I think. if he's well off that then he will be overtired. the only way to cure overtiredness is more sleep - which means more pram walks or putting him in a sling and walking round the house till he sleeps - or a swing works for some (but not for my dd).
By the way... just one wake up, or no wake ups, since birth... that is amazing night sleeping.
Please please don't wean this early except on medical advice (ie if reflux has been diagnosed and they suggest early weaning). It's really far too young and it won't help him sleep. It might just upset his digestive system and then you have a new problem to deal with. if he's sleeping through the night or just waking once, at 4 months old, he can't be hungry.
Good luck, let us know how you get on.
Congratulations on your beautiful new baby and well done both of you surviving these first months. I think that first time round, the first 4-6 months are the hardest, things will ease up.
As others have said, silent reflux/reflux is def a possibility. A close friend of mine's dd had it and the only thing that stopped her crying all through the day was when she started solids. Like you, their baby slept through the night, but not at all through the day. I imagine the burn from the reflux is pretty distressing for the baby, which explains the near constant upset.
BTW, she started solids at 17 weeks as per the advice at the time, following Annabel karmel's book.
All the best,
Some of what you are saying seems like DS. We thought he had colic, but now, being older (definitely) and wiser (maybe) we think it was silent reflux.
Things that helped us were, a sling, and also a swing. We would not have survived the first year without a swing. On a few really bad nights DS even slept in the swing.
DD2 is lactose intolerant and changing her to a comfort formula stopped her screaming and puking. We still haven't cracked sleeping with her.
To put it into context, DS is the sweetest, most thoughtful child I know, he's 9 now. I'm still unsure how we survived the first year.
It really does get better.
Sorry - when I say calm down. It is likely that this is normal, well, your normal anyway.
Sleeping through the night is a brilliant sign that he is doing pretty well. Congratulate yourselves for that.
Are you visiting baby weigh-ins/Health Visitor drop ins etc?
I would forget about the idea of the holiday (one new mum I know burst into tears when her DH bought the family a suprise holiday - she just couldn't face the stress and hassle).
Maybe take the time to break up your routine, you take on some of the mundane childcare moments (and by that I mean putting a wash on, changing the beds, doing a supermarket shop), maybe even venture out to lunch together?? and give yourselves a break.
I would suggest this rather than cranial massage.
But good luck with everything.
And, maternity leave doesn't have to all be taken, there is nothing to stop your wife going back to work, finding her smart clothes, investing in another side of her, and letting the childcare professional do this stage whilst you then have lovely family weekends...
Have you tried carrying him round in a sling rather than in a pram? My second son was like that for over a year and it was utter hell. My first son was so easy-going and happy that it was a terrible shock. I can remember rocking my second child in his pram with tears streaming down my face.
My advice is check out for reflux/colic/lactose intolerance and if it non of these then try a sling. Also take it in turns to be with him whilst the other gets out of the house to be away from the crying.
Also it doesn't last for ever - my dreadful baby is now 4 and one of the sweetest little boys you could meet. I think he cried a lot because he is very sensitive - a lovely quality now that he can talk about it but hellish as a baby. Good luck
Ok OK OK. Stop looking for solutions.
You have both just had the biggest change that could ever happen to you as a couple. You have a beautiful new baby who, like 99% of babies, hasn't read the rule book (rainbows and bunnies - like that!).
You get in from work - he screams, you wife retreats (resentfully? (that's pretty common too - you having lovely water cooler moments at work with people dressed in clothes NOT covered in sick)) whilst she has to face the constant, unyielding pressure of an unpredictable and hugely demanding other human being.
I really suggest you stop looking for a 'solution' and just calm down a bit.
Will post more in a minute...
Sorry, OP, how many feeds a day was that? 3 hourly spaces maybe a bit too stretched out at four months?
JoinTheDots - yep, pretty sure he's teething in any case. He does like shoving his fingers and fists in - lots of drool and makes him sick sometimes.
As others suggested, may look into other baby groups. We do try to have some structure - basically he gets up anytime between 7 and 9, feed, after an hour or so he'll have a nap and if we're able to, we'll take him for a walk before his next feed 3 hours-ish later. Play etc until we have lunch, then wait until after his next feed before another walk, 4-ish next feed, our dinner and play time until about 6:30, at which point we bathe him and feed him before bed.
EssentialCoffee - I have no doubt my wife looks forward to weekend mornings, or any morning I'm about - I'm usually an early riser anyway so I'll get up with him if I'm in (however, I do have to be out for work early so when I'm in work she has to wake up with him as I'm out beforehand).
Those suggesting the shared parental leave - hmm... I'm seeing my boss tomorrow so may enquire about it. But I do recall being told it was the standard statutory paternity leave.
I'd start with a trip to the doctors to at least rule out any physical causes such as reflux.
I can only say when DS screamed for apparently no reason and I'd been through the usual list of things, nappy change, hungry etc., I'd take him outdoors for a walk as the screaming doesn't sound quite so bad outdoors, it seemed to echo indoors!
It might be worth checking if there's any other baby groups you/DW can take your baby to. IME it really does help to have a change of scenery.
DH and I take turns to have a lie in at the weekend, is this something you could do? I look forward to my Saturday mornings!
It does get easier - honest!
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