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Dh says, "How can I support extended breastfeeding when I feel so left out?"

(21 Posts)
TAFKAtheUrbanDryad Sun 19-Jul-09 09:15:29

I am currently nursing ds (2.6) and dd (5 months). It's really hard work and I'm feeling very drained and tired.

Aside from all the other issues with my dh (have had thread recently in Relationships) he is now saying that he feels like he can't do anything for ds because he only ever wants bm. Also, when he doesn't get it, or when I'm busy with dd and dh tries to intervene with him, he kicks and scratches and bites. It's awful behaviour and I'm trying to stamp it out.

The trouble is, dh doesn't exactly help himself. He pretty much leaves the disciplining to me and doesn't really pay ds very much attention. I mentioned it in my other thread, but when I'm putting dd to bed (which is supposed to be dh and ds' quiet time together) more often than not dh sticks a DVD on and retreats behind his laptop - although he is getting better at this.

Anyway, I suppose this is a bit of an AIBU - or is he being unreasonable? Do other dads of extended bf-d toddlers feel left out? What can dh do to comfort ds when bm isn't on the cards?

theyoungvisiter Sun 19-Jul-09 09:32:59

Have you tried just leaving them to it for a day or more?

In general I find that the more 1-to-1 time DS1 spends with DH, the better they interact together.

I am tandem-feeding DS1 (3) and DS2 (7 months) and it's never been an issue with DH, however I have had for a long time a policy of bf morning and evening only - mostly for practical reasons - which cuts down the potential for shouting from DS. He knows he has his "slot" for getting it, and that's that, there's no point going on about it during the day. I don't know if that would be a helpful strategy for you and your DH? It may not be one you want to adopt though, and it does create its own problems.

I suspect however that your DS's behaviour (kicking and biting etc) is not really to do with BM but to do with competing for mummy's attention with the new baby. From his POV he is having to fight more for your attention, and your DH is trying to keep him from you.

First of all I would try to explain to your DH that it is not the BM that is causing the problem, it's the fact that he wants your attention. Weaning him wouldn't solve it and would likely make it worse.

Second I would encourage them to spend more time together solo - I don't know if they already do this? If you aren't around, your DS will likely accept comfort from your DH much more, and will get more used to this situation.

Good luck...

theyoungvisiter Sun 19-Jul-09 09:40:21

sorry I should clarify - when I said I have a policy of bf morning and evening, I meant for DS1 only - DS2 of course gets it throughout the day!

DS1 understands this and knows that he doesn't need milk all the time, whereas DS2 does.

I also should perhaps be totally honest and say that I think DH would like it if DS1 were to magically wean, however it's not a bone of contention between us.

TAFKAtheUrbanDryad Sun 19-Jul-09 09:41:37

TYV - yes, I have left them for a day on their own together, and they get on fine. Dh takes him swimming, or whatever - they have a great time. But our weekends are fairly precious, and some of the time is spent catching up on sleep, and I also feel that family time with all four of us important. So the scope for dh and ds only time is limited - and one of the reasons we changed our bedtime routine, so that they could spend a little time together every evening.

The "slot" thing is a good idea. I don't tend to nurse ds too much in the day, mainly first thing in the morning, at naptime and last thing at night. The trouble is that "first thing in the morning" is usually when dd wakes him up, and then he kicks off because she's being fed. I can't nurse them together as it feels horrible and makes me feel horrendously touched out.

I do want to wean ds, I've had enough of bf-ing him and I don't enjoy it at all but I don't want to have to force wean him and make more problems. I had to stop him nursing during pg and it was horrific - 5 hour long screaming fits and so on. Dh wasn't really involved with the weaning process too much, so doesn't know how awful it was.

PrincessToadstool Sun 19-Jul-09 09:46:17

Obviously am in a totally different place but it sounds to me like the discipline is the issue - or an issue anyway - if DH doesn't assert authority then why would DS listen to him whether being told off or being comforted? Similar here, a bit. DP agrees with me when I say no or move DS if he kicks or whatever, but is lingering in the background and not very forthcoming when DS plays up with him so DS tries it on more, I think.

But I don't want to project, DS is a lot younger and it's not about BFing but I just wonder if DH feels out of control because he can't control DS? And BFing is a good a thing as any to blame?

PrincessToadstool Sun 19-Jul-09 09:47:10

Sorry x-posted, mis-read I think.

TAFKAtheUrbanDryad Sun 19-Jul-09 09:56:24

No, I think you may have a point there PrincessT. I think as well that bf-ing is an easy target for him to lash out at because he is feeling rubbish about other stuff at the moment. I'm also wondering if he's saying this to me because he knows it pushes a lot of buttons and it's an easy way to upset me.

I hate the way it has to be an all or nothing issue for him. Either I bf and do everything for ds, or I don't and we can happily co-parent. Surely that's not the way it's meant to be?

theyoungvisiter Sun 19-Jul-09 09:58:40

I can sympathise with the morning slot problems - that's the only time I've ever felt there were problems.

I can also sympathise with not wanting to feed them together - I could't do this either after the first couple of weeks. I mean, I can physically but it makes me feel really overwhelmed.

The "slot" strategy works really well for us but one of the problems it has created is that DS1 is very fiercely protective of these times because he knows if gets short changed that's it for the day - he's missed the boat. So we also had the screaming jealousy issue in the morning. My main tactic has been to say that as this is the only time that is really completely DS1's, he gets priority. This is a bit mean on DS2 but I feel that he gets all my milk all the rest of the day so he can cope with being second in line just once, and it gives DS1 a nice feeling that he is being prioritised for once.

Some other ideas which have helped for us -

1) I try to tank DS2 up if I get the chance around 5 or 6 am so he is relatively full when DS1 wakes up and doesn't immediately need a feed.
2) If by any chance they do need feeding at the same time in the morning I explain to DS1 that I need to give DS2 a 5 minute go before it's his turn, and give DS2 just enough to take the edge off. It's not a proper feed but I figure one scanty feed in a day won't harm him.
3) We have a special treat for times when he volunteers to give up bm voluntarily (which is working really well at bedtime too - touch wood!) Our treat is pink milk - he is a big fan of Charlie and Lola and we introduced the idea of pink milk - which is just milk with a drop of natural food colouring (beetroot) in it, so it's not too awful health-wise. He doesn't seem to have noticed that it has exactly the same taste as normal milk. He gets it in a special clear cup without a lid (which makes him feel grownup and he can see it's pink!) He is not allowed the pink milk at any other times of day - it's strictly a bm substitute treat, and he gets a story with Daddy as part of the deal. Is there something similar you could do - something your DS loves and is not allowed that he could be bribed with?

I really sympathise though - so much of mothering a toddler and a baby involves feeling torn and knackered and while I don't think bfing causes this, it certainly helps underline the fact that mummies are not the same as daddies in many respects.

theyoungvisiter Sun 19-Jul-09 10:01:11

Cross-posted with Princess T but I agree - I don't think this is anything to do with bfing, it's just a convenient peg to hang your DS's behaviour on for your DH.

TAFKAtheUrbanDryad Sun 19-Jul-09 10:05:36

That's a great idea about the pink milk! Top tip! grin Will get some food colouring forthwith.

It's the way that dh seems to give up, as soon as ds asks for "milkies" - he's also said how he's feeling resentful because quite often in the night/early morning he has to move into ds' room because ds comes into bed with us/me and there's no room for dh. I figure these things are all part and parcel of being a parent and he should just suck it up, but I'm wondering if he has a point.

theyoungvisiter Sun 19-Jul-09 10:07:11

Is it worth throwing the ball back in your DH's court - saying ok, if you want DS to wean then you have to help and come up with strategies - it's not enough to say "I don't like this".

Seems to me, if he is accepting the lie-ins etc that come with ex-bf then he needs to accept responsibility for the hard stuff too.

I think our pink milk/daddy treat has worked well for Dh and has resulted in DS1 cutting down on bfing a lot at bedtime in a fairly painless way - he gets a choice of pink milk and stories, or bm and a boring bedtime. He's choosing the pink milk more and more often now.

We're still working on mornings but I feel we're getting there, whereas 4 months ago I felt like I would be bfing forever.

BUT it has been a joint effort between me and DH with both of us coming up with ideas and working hard to see them through.

Your DH can't just say "I don't like this" and wash his hands of the problems involved in changing things.

theyoungvisiter Sun 19-Jul-09 10:10:48

sorry x-posted - buy a king-sized bed? grin

Actually more seriously, we have a king-sized bed (bought when I was pg and the best investment we've ever made IMO!) and one of the things I love about it is that when we have both kids in it of a morning, I bf both the children and then go and lie crossways at the foot and leave them with DH up the head end.

It's bliss! Nobody pawing at me, yanking my hair, flopping the duvet up and down. I get to have a nice snooze down the far end and let DH deal with the children ho ho.

whomovedmychocolate Sun 19-Jul-09 10:16:56

It is difficult - DS is now 1 and DD nearly three and I quite often have a 'queue' but my DH sees this as a positive thing (now) because he says they want me so he can feck off on his computer and ignore everyone hmm.

I do think he's projecting here - if he has a problem in his relationship with DS it's not your fault or responsibility.

You are doing something really positive - especially in a pandemic situation - and he should be grateful you are willing to make the effort angry.

Mornings used to be hellish for us though, they would both be squally while waiting for their turn. hmm But if you repeat 'this will pass' again and again it can feel a bit better. And it does get better. Think back to two months ago, is it easier now or harder - whatever your answer you can see that almost everything will change in another six weeks or so

I suspect your DH is feeling a bit neglected though - do you have a regular 'date' night where monsters are not invited?

ILikeToMoveItMoveIt Sun 19-Jul-09 10:22:32

It sounds like you've got a third child to look after tbh. Sorry, I know this is a bit harsh, but your dh needs to step up and grow a pair.

They are his children too and he needs to get involved for all your sakes - to be a good dad, a good husband and a good person.

An adult acting like a child is draining and sucks the life out of a relationship.

How about he has a bath (actaully in the bath) with ds every night? This is great one to one time and will ensure interaction between them. No hiding behind the laptop and dvd's.

Baby and toddlerhood is such a short time, and if he doesn't get involved in the decision making and childcare now, what of the next 16 years?

theyoungvisiter Sun 19-Jul-09 10:24:51

"your dh needs to step up and grow a pair."

I read this first off and thought "of boobs".

Sorry to lower the tone grin

TAFKAtheUrbanDryad Sun 19-Jul-09 10:27:38

TYV - we already have a king-sized bed and a side along cot for dd! Neither me or ds is exactly small though, so perhaps that's where we're going wrong! wink

I have asked him what he thinks we should wrt weaning, and always get the, "I dunno, it's your area," answer. hmm Which obviously makes me really mad!

WMMC - there are other issues between me and dh at the moment, which is leading me to not exactly wanting to spend a "date" night with him. At the moment it's as much as I can do to be in the same room with him (meaning he's upstairs asleep at the moment snoring angry while I'm downstairs with the babies). I know that the bf-ing thing as probably symptomatic of this - and ds' clinginess is possibly to do with feeling insecure because dh and i are shouting at each other - and think that getting on at me about bf-ing is an easy way to get a cheap shot in.

TAFKAtheUrbanDryad Sun 19-Jul-09 10:28:33

TYV - he already has a pair of boobs, the trouble is they don't produce milk!

TAFKAtheUrbanDryad Sun 19-Jul-09 10:29:12

Neither me or dh is small, that was supposed to say. Ds is pretty small.

theyoungvisiter Sun 19-Jul-09 10:41:00

"I dunno, it's your area,"

Sorry that is a pile of crap - just because it's your boobs that the milk comes out of, that doesn't mean you have any more insight or responsibility regarding weaning. In fact rather the reverse - this is something your DH can take the lead in because bm is never going to be an issue between him and DS.

You might as well say that because the children came out of your uterus therefore the whole parenting lark is "your area". Or does he believe that too?

TAFKAtheUrbanDryad Sun 19-Jul-09 11:43:25

You know what, TYV, I've a feeling he does. sad

theyoungvisiter Sun 19-Jul-09 13:49:24

sad it sounds like a very complicated situation Dryad.

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