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Feeling lost with an unhappy newborn

(29 Posts)
BungleBonce Fri 15-Jul-11 16:54:06

I am here because I am utterly lost. After a traumatic arrival (failed induction two weeks early because she was transverse, emergency caesarean and cardiac arrest), our five-week-old little girl is struggling to put on weight. She was 6lb, 1oz and is still under 7lb. I am desperate to breastfeed but have been told by my GP and a lone helpful nurse to try topping up with formula.

But she refuses both bottle and breast, screams all day even when held, and feeds so slowly I am sometimes tied to the sofa for 12 hours. She wakes herself from sleep regularly with sharp cries. Neither of us can sleep. I am getting maybe 4 hours per day. I am exhausted.

My health visitor will not visit, my midwives discharged me despite my tearful protestations that all is not well, and my GP is well meaning but just sends me away with advice to get her weighed regularly.

My husband is doing the meals and housework but he is also back at work, and I have no family or friends to help out. I miss meals because I am trying to comfort her and the house is a mess. I barely get out because I am terrified of not being able to feed her should she need it. I cannot feed her outside because she is so slow. I think she takes in too much air, which gives her pain, but she cannot get it out despite all our efforts. She also holds in her No. 2s until the end of the day, which seems to give her pain. That’s the only routine she has.

She is so unhappy and no one will help. No one will tell me how to administer top ups (what formula, how much, when, what technique) and I am being made to feel like a failure as a human being for not being able to produce enough milk. I would love to exclusively breastfeed but she was getting dangerously small. Even with the top ups she is still screaming and uncomfortable and not sleeping.

We cannot afford private healthcare but the NHS does not want to know about us.

We do not want our old lives back. We do not want a routine. We just want our baby to feed, put on weight and just look content once in a while. We have never been as tired or as unhappy and we are both tearfully ashamed at our dark our thoughts toward her are.

What can I do? Can anyone help?

tiktok Fri 15-Jul-11 17:11:41

Bungle, so sorry you are having such a difficult time sad

I think this is truly a serious situation and you are absolutely right to be concerned about getting help and support, and right to be dismayed that this is not forthcoming.

I am an NCT breastfeeding counsellor and I'd encourage you to call any of the helplines, including ours (they're all on mumsnet on the breastfeeding page on the Babies menu).

Having said that, I don't think you are describing a baby who is ill or seriously undernourished. A weight gain of 15 ounces since the first week is indeed slow but not desperately slow - this may explain why you are finding it hard to get help, because HCPs are not seeing a baby who is ill, and think that all is well.

But you and your baby are unhappy and you are feeling overwhelmed by this - and this is a real cry for help that needs answering sad

Can you and your DH make an appt. together to see a GP or the HV and state in the clear terms you have used here just how bad things are? Print out your post and say 'this is what I was desperate enough to send to an internet forum on Friday - you can see we must be all unhappy for me to seek out this sort of support.'

I have no idea if you and your baby have a feeding problem or not, or a wind problem, or a gut problem - but babies can be unhappy without anything significant at all in the feeding/gut department. They have feelings and emotions and emotional needs, and fears and sensitivities....and you and your baby are a relationship in action, which may need careful and sympathetic support to help it go right. Your HV should at least consider this.

I hope this helps a bit.

MoonFaceMamaaaaargh Fri 15-Jul-11 17:26:53

tiktok this thread is also in behaviour and development with further info. smile

<sighs with relief that tiktok is here>

Lizzun Fri 15-Jul-11 17:32:54

Hey Bungle

I'm so sorry to read your post, I do understand some of what you are going through, and know how sad I have felt at times...

I'm afraid I can't really add anything to help, I think tiktok has made some very valid points. But I wanted to send you a big hug and say you are not alone in finding this tough! It is the hardest thing I've ever done and at times I feel totally inadequate and hopeless... Things do seem to get easier with time though, my LO is 8weeks now and when I look back I realise what progress we have made.

I too have found support very lacking from the professionals, the greatest support I've found has been from other Mums at various Mum's groups and would encourage you to try and get out to one...

I do hope you can get the help and support that you need and things get better soon. Take care.

diyqueen Fri 15-Jul-11 18:14:10

I'm so sorry that you've had such a traumatic start, my heart goes out to you. I would echo the advice to seek out some support from breastfeeding counsellors and mums' groups - I go to La Leche League meetings and they are really kind and helpful. There are ways of helping babies to feed and someone will be able to help. The only way my dd would latch on to start with was if we expressed a bit of milk and cup-fed it to her first - for some reason got her interested and she'd eat (not suggesting that, just giving it as an example of something I wouldn't have tried without expert help). Being isolated will make everything harder to cope with - getting out to a group might feel like climbing everest in these early weeks, but I found it really useful talking to other mums. My daughter has always loved getting out and seeing other people as well (and she did a heck of a lot of screaming in the early weeks too). Are there any people you know locally who would meet up for a coffee and chat? You really need to look after yourself so that you can look after your baby - if you're exhausted and unhappy she may be picking up your tension. Have you spoken to your GP about your exhaustion and feelings, rather than just focussing on the baby? Hormones can be all over the place to start with but you need to stay vigilant for postnatal depression too given your circumstances and the difficult birth. Is there anything your baby seems to enjoy/stops her crying? If so just do whatever it is as much as you can. Mine used to fall asleep in a baby carrier/sling so when it was all getting too much I'd pop her in there and go out for a walk and some peace and quiet. She also enjoyed looking at a musical mobile from about the age yours is now, and seemed to quite like being bathed (though not being got out afterwards!). When she started smiling, suddenly everything seemed easier - that's hopefully something you can look forward to in the next few weeks. All the best.

thisisyesterday Fri 15-Jul-11 18:23:01

i would advise seeing a breastfeeding counsellor, La Leche League are fantastic (in my experience)

was baby this unsettled before you started the formula top-ups?

has she put on weight slowly, or has her weight been static/dropping?

TheSnickeringFox Fri 15-Jul-11 18:25:30

Oh poor you Bungle. Whereabouts are you?

YogaMummy2B Fri 15-Jul-11 18:59:55

I could have written your post infact practically did when my LO was born. Turns out she had silent reflux, have a google for the symptoms to see if they match.
Big hugs, its very hard, esp. with emergency section & the cardiac arrest - post traumatic stress prob lurking around a little bit too! I was in a bleary mess until about 10 weeks and couldn't look at the scar for an age.
Hope you get things sorted and can enjoy your baby very soon.

YogaMummy2B Fri 15-Jul-11 19:20:35

Have a read of this if you get a chance, you might find some common ground.

BungleBonce Fri 15-Jul-11 21:48:31

Thanks for the support everyone. It feels very lonely here.
She was losing weight until we started the formula top ups and dropped so far that we ended up back at hospital.
After doing some reading, I think reflux is ringing a few bells, unfortunately. She screams, arches her back and pulls on and off during feeds. She also cries afterward, rather than being settled, and screams in her sleep. It's really difficult to watch her go through this and not be able to help her. My husband now has her in sling after she's cried pretty much all day.
Yogamummy - what happened when you got the silent reflux diagnosis. Did you go on to medication?
And, yes, I think there's a bit of PST as well. Sleep deprivation isn't helping, but I feel very low. Struggling to face each day and there hasn't been one without tears that I can remember. It feels awful not to be able to help her - and I also feel guilty for some of my dark thoughts.
Will take her to the GP on Monday and press for some action, but not looking forward to the weekend before that.

YogaMummy2B Fri 15-Jul-11 22:31:31

OK, here is your coping strategy. You need to look after yourself, I bet you are low on iron after the c-section. This will make you feel far more tired than would be normal. Get some liquid iron from chemist and get dosing yourself. Eat lots of good food this weekend when your OH is about. My DH made me juicy steak and spinach for weeks on end, which he had to cut up so I could eat with one hand while BFing constantly!
Don't worry about the dark thoughts, it's all very natural. I had a dream of a natural Hypnobirth and a beautifully content baby I could breast feed and go off travelling to Canada and Europe with to visit family!! So when that didn't happen I was in a bad place too. It will pass, esp when you get your first smile!
Other things that will help - a dummy (only to be used when you really need a rest and are sure your LO has eaten, I believe that you could be glued to the sofa for 12 hours straight, it happened to me. One day I didn't pee until 3pm from night before!!!) my LO did a lot of comfort sucking and this made things worse, so a dummy helped provide the comfort.
Keep baby upright after a feed for approx 1/2 hr. Grab some gripe water and give this to your LO when she seems very uncomfortable, it will give you a little bit of ant-acid, which may give some relief (it's fine to give a little early!)
Try your hardest to rest and get your DH to give the bottle to your DD.
Cut out dairy now as if it is cows milk intolerance through your breast milk it could take a few weeks to remove all traces and see improvement. Lots of silent reflux caused by cows milk intolerance.
I downloaded films to my iPad and watched them in sections through the night, helped keep me awake.
When silent reflux was diagnosed we went straight on to a medication called ranitidine, it is an ant-acid. It took 2 days to start working and the difference was amazing. Only problem, it didn't last! So we then went on to an acid inhibitor called Omeprazole (Losec), this took about 3 days to kick in and again the difference was amazing. Sleepy and calm baby. We have had to up the dose of this a few times but it seems to be holding things at bay most of the time.
Good luck. Keep chatting over the weekend.

Meglet Fri 15-Jul-11 22:39:16

Sorry you are having a hard time ((hugs)).

Does your GP's answerphone message give you the out of hours number? If you are in a town / city they should have a weekend surgery you can attend. I've always found ours would let me go along if I had an urgent problem when the dc's were tiny. If you go armed with the info from others on this thread you might get things sorted sooner than later. A bit of pester power won't do any harm.

hope things settle down soon.

HuwEdwards Fri 15-Jul-11 22:49:48

I am not drawing any feeding parallels here, just 'hopelessness' parallels. My DD is 10 now and she SCREAMED constantly as a newborn when I tried to BF her. I was in tears, often. She was not what my dd2 was, an 'easy' baby.

Maybe that's us as first-time parents, I don't know.

Doesn't help you now (unlike Tiktok's advice which will) but she is a gorgeous, athletic, funny daughter, to whom I am very close.

Give yourselves and her, some time. Routine does happen, although it's not a constant - because then teething sets in!!

Not saying it's easy by any stretch, it's bleeding hard work, BUT it will get better.

Sorry this is probably not desperately helpful, just trying to say it's early days and routine WILL come.

RandomMess Fri 15-Jul-11 22:55:57

Huge huge hugs

It was my 3rd dd that screamed all the time, was never contented, never happy and they wouldn't listen to me sad

Silent reflux is just horrendous. My understanding is that infant gaviscon cannot harm so certainly ask to try it - to mix it up but the water and powder in a small container with a tight lid and shake hard - don't follow the instructions!

I would also see a cranial osteopath, your baby has had a difficult time and not undergone the natural birth process that can cause issues for them.

I hope tomorrow is a better day.

tiktok Fri 15-Jul-11 23:16:27

Bungle, some good support here smile

Lots of people show you that difficult early days do come to an end.

However, 'dark thoughts' are something to worry about - please seek help and be honest to the doctor about how low you feel. Think about seeking help before Monday, if you can, maybe?

HuwEdwards Fri 15-Jul-11 23:48:36

Bungle, please listen to Tiktok

YogaMummy2B Sat 16-Jul-11 06:16:47

Oh goodness, I am worried now! If you really are having lingering 'dark thoughts' then this is something to be concerned about! And I echo what the others have said, seek help now rather than later. Out of hours GP or go to the hospital.
If it is manageable and down to tiredness and a little baby in constant pain and you are just frazzled then I would still call out of hours doctor for your LO.
Just try and remember - if it is silent reflux, the crying will settle very quickly with medication and things will get a lot easier. Your little baby is just in pain right now and can't tell you any other way.
Keep talking.

MummyHarris Sat 16-Jul-11 06:59:55

Hello Bungle, i was really sorry to read your post and hear of the hard time that you are having. Things will get better for sure, but i know how very difficult those early days are; after the trauma of delivery all you need is rest, but you can't get any because you have a little one to care for, and you try to make sense of their demands, and when you cant meet them you become very distressed, and the exhaustion is so debilitating...i spent many a long night and day in tears feeling utterly alone and exhausted. We did come through the other end though!
Do you have any Sure Start centres in your area that you could visit - they often have Health Visitor support, or local drop-in weigh-in clinics where there are Health Visitors you can speak to? Can you ask to see another Doctor if your own GP isn't helping? Try support organisations like NCT and La Leche League. Ask for help for your own needs as well as your baby's, as it is so important for you both. Other than seeking professional help try to rest when baby rests, go for walks, keep talking to your husband and to other mums on here, and do not feel alone because you are not.

BungleBonce Sat 16-Jul-11 09:19:06

OK... totally exhausted but slightly relieved update. Baby's condition got so distressing last night - gaping for air, wheezing and refusing food - that my husband called 999 for an ambulance. The paramedics were great and told us we had done the right thing. They gave her oxygen and took us to hospital, where she was quickly diagnosed with silent reflux. We got back home about 3 am this morning. My husband is going back shortly to pick up her medication (pharmacy was closed last night), so fingers crossed this makes a difference for her. I will try respond to some of the lovely people here when we've had some rest, but thank you so much for taking the time to talk to me. Some of the comments were really reassuring.

YogaMummy2B Sat 16-Jul-11 09:26:10

So relieved that everyone is OK! If you need any tips on how to administer anything PM me or have a look on the reflux thread. As she is so little things should not take too long to kick in. Fingers crossed things will start to get a bit brighter for you.

VeronicaCake Sat 16-Jul-11 09:48:40

So glad you sought help and that the paramedics were sensible and told you you had done the right thing.

I'm sitting here really feeling for you. Those first few weeks are so overwhelming, and to have a child whom you know is unhappy and not having your concerns listened to must be excruciating.

I don't know anything about reflux but I just wanted to comment on the anxiety it sounds like you are feeling (perfectly rationally in the circumstances!). I got terribly anxious when DD was slow to regain weight after birth. With hindsight I don't think there really was a problem but I didn't know that at the time. If the anxiety becomes constant and affects your ability to cope day to day small doses of anti-anxiety meds (which won't stop you breastfeeding) may make a big difference.

TikTok has already mentioned the breastfeeding helplines, and the role of breastfeeding counsellors. We were lucky and had wonderful support from our local BFC, I cannot rate the help we got from her highly enough.

Speaking to other parents can be a lifesaver. I went to postnatal yoga classes with DD which were a great opportunity to relax and chat to people in the same boat as me. I'm guessing that right now leaving the house feels daunting, but believe me in a very few weeks your daughter will start to take much more of an interest in the world and getting out will become much easier.

Even in this difficult period try and actively identify the points where you and she are both happy. These periods will become longer and longer. I vividly remember a day when DD was 11 weeks old when I realised as I went to bed that I had spent most of the day doing things to entertain her rather than simply to stop her crying. I think that was the point where I started to feel I could do this parenting thing after all. Your DD is five weeks old, at some point soon she'll give you the best smile ever, and then she'll start to coo and gurgle, and stare at her hands, and gaze at your face as if it is the most fascinating thing in the world (which it is!). All these good things are going to come thick and fast.

Ironically, and despite knowing that I hated large parts of the first 8 weeks, a year on I look back and miss those early days. My toddler is off doing her own thing for most of the day and rarely feels the need for a cuddle. Last night I couldn't sleep and ended up going into her room, picking DD out of her cot and snuggling up on the futon on the floor with her for the sheer pleasure of being close to her.

BungleBonce Sat 16-Jul-11 09:56:26

And, just quickly, to reassure on the "dark thoughts." I was really talking about the feeling that things weren't going to get any better. I'm still exhausted and worried and I know there's a long road ahead, but having somebody finally listen to me (I'd given her symptoms to midwives, health visitor and GP, all to no avail) has already made a huge difference.

crikeybadger Sat 16-Jul-11 10:25:19

Must be a relief to get a firm diagnosis of silent reflux Bungle.

Now at least you can get her going on the meds and know that you are heading in the right direction.

Try and get some rest today if you can- even just a 20 min nap, or a relaxing bath will make you feel so much better. smile

RandomMess Sat 16-Jul-11 10:55:48

Fantastic that you have got a diagnosis so quickly - how horrible for your dd to be so distressed though sad well and both of you!

Please be aware that not all reflux meds work for all babies it's trial in error with medication and doses so ensure that you also get referred to see a consultant and go and visit your gp asap to get that relationship going.

I would still recommend going to see a cranial osteopath as well as your poor baby has had a very difficult time and is probably very tense etc, certainly really helped my dd fully recover from the expereince.

Meglet Sat 16-Jul-11 11:29:24

Pleased to hear you have got some medication on the way.

Take it easy and rest this weekend. Order pizza or something smile. I hope things improve now.

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