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Why can't I be a better mum?

(48 Posts)
MillionPramMiles Thu 13-Sep-12 15:15:14

I have a 4 month old baby and I just don't seem able to cope like other mums seem able to. It's got so bad I'm thinking of going back to work by December, 6 months earlier than I thought I would.

My dd doesn't sleep, day or night. I've tried everything, co sleeping, sling, pram, car seat, cranial osteo, maternity nurse, GP, Hv. She sleeps for exactly half hour in the morning and afternoon and that's it. She's happy for about 30 mins after she wakes and for about 20 mins after a feed but for the rest of the day is overtired and whinges/cries. No amount of cuddles, play, pram rides, baby classes etc help her sleep or cheer her up. Outings usually end in a meltdown as her 'awake/happy' window is so short.

At night she wakes between 6-12 times, I feed her twice (she isn't hungry the other times) and use dummy, reposition, cuddle etc rest of time. Part of the problem is shes a very light sleeper so wakes easily and can't get herself back to sleep. I haven't had more than 3-4 hours sleep a night since she was born. My dp tries to help but he can't settle her so Im woken by her crying anyway.

I've read dr sears info on high need babies and she seems to show some of those qualities but i don't know what more I can do.
I know babies aren't supposed to sleep but no one else I know is having the same experience as I am every day and every night for 4 months with no improvement, in fact things have got worse since she has started moving around more.
I can't cope anymore, I don't know how other mums do it and if I'm just being weak but I am exhausted, demoralised and feel a failure. I feel like paying for 24 hour child care and admitting I can't do it.

ZuleikaD Thu 13-Sep-12 15:26:59

Don't beat yourself up! You've clearly been working really hard to find solutions that work for her and your very best is all you can do! If it's any consolation at all, anyone else would have less success than you because she's still your baby and you know her best. I know it's an incredibly hard thing to do, but try and relax - if you're worrying constantly about whether "if she goes down this time whether she's going to be awake in 30 minutes" then she will pick up on your worry - it can become a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Also, babies change what they want all the time, so something that hasn't worked in the past (a sling for instance) may work now. And four months is absolutely notorious/infamous for being a huge change in the way they behave because of growth and developmental spurts.

One thing you don't mention, and that may be related to the sleep issues she has (I think if you and she were getting more sleep you would both be happier) is how much she eats. Is she breastfed and how many times a day does she feed? Does she have any sort of routine? Most babies this age can only do 90 minutes - 2 hours awake before they're ready to nap. Don't be afraid to feed to sleep if that works.

JennerOSity Thu 13-Sep-12 15:33:15

I really sympathise as this sounds tortuous. Poor you and poor her.

I have not experienced the same personally, however a close friend had a very very similar experience and took her baby to see a cranial osteopath, the results were dramatic and virtually instant! Of course I couldn't say it would work for everyone, but it is certainly worth a go for both your sakes and sanity.

some info here

BTW - other Mums can do it because they aren't coping with the same level of problems you are - the sleep patterns you describe are at the extreme end of difficult so feeling you can't cope / are rubbish is completely understandable.

I hope you check out the info and I hope it helps.

Donkeysdontridebicycles Thu 13-Sep-12 17:20:59

Please don't think you are alone, lots of parents don't admit to problems but some babies are harder work than others and yet "everyone else" appears to cope.

My friend's dd seemed to think "sleep is for wimps", mithering and grumpy throughout the day. Friend was utterly demoralised but found 2 things helped.

As long as she knew her baby was fed, nappy was clean and she wasn't cold etc, she left baby to her own devices for a short while in her little bouncy chair in a draught-free corner of the kitchen while the washing machine was on. White noise can soothe a baby and a dishwasher or washing machine did the trick. Or a vacuum cleaner or hairdryer. Not for a prolonged period, not so loud or close as to damage hearing and not just to drown out the crying as someone said!

The second thing that helped, when she lay her dd down, was gently rocking her legs towards her tummy to help relieve wind.

I'm sure someone will be along with other ideas, in particular regarding night time, but hang on in there, as they say on MN "This too shall pass".

DoubleYew Thu 13-Sep-12 17:21:45

Jenner she said in the op she has already tried co.

Million, I was you two years ago. DS would not sleep, screamed and I was miserable. People told me it got easier after 3 months but 4 and 5 were actually the hardest. At 5.5 months he could sit and play and was a bit happier, again with crawling at 8 months, again walking at 13 months. His sleep got a bit better each time (including a blissfull few weeks each time he got a new skill where he would totally exhaust himself and sleep for hours). He is 2.2 now and just slept through last night (thank fuck!)

I felt totally crap as people I met seemed to have happier babies and often looked at me pitingly, asking what wsa wrong with mine or suggesting I get him into a good routine, like I hadn't tried! I also had post traumatic stress from the birth so it was all pretty crappy.

All I can suggest is venting to sensible people and muddling through with whatever you can. It will get better, it can't get worse huh? There is a suppoort thread for high needs babies on here, I will go and see if I can find it for you.

It is almost certainly not you, some babies just don't like being helpless little babies.

DoubleYew Thu 13-Sep-12 17:28:31


thebeesnees79 Thu 13-Sep-12 17:30:33

op I want to give you a big big hug.
my little boy was an absolute nightmare for the first 12 months so I totally understand where you are coming from.
can you afford to put her in half day nursery somewhere so you can recoup? or get someone to have her for a couple of hours so you can sleep a bit?
you are not a bad mum and it is bloody hard work.
I can't really offer any other advice sorry, my son got to 12 months I had just quit breast feeding and he started walking then slept through the night. I felt like a new person after getting 8 hours. please hang in there x

MillionPramMiles Thu 13-Sep-12 19:24:16

Thanks all for your posts.
Zuleika - I ebf until 12 wks then started topping up with formula (it's the only way to get her to sleep for half hour even). Have started baby rice this week too (which she loves but hasn't made any difference to her sleeping). Shes always been a big eater and her weight has jumped two percentiles. I'm worried I'm over feeding her to placate her but don't know how else to cope. she does have a routine, nap 90 mins after wake, 4 hourly feeds, another nap after the lunchtime feed, bath and bed at 6.30-7pm. The problem is the naps are too short. She simply cries and cries if I leave her in the cot to try to get her to sleep more. The only carrier she will go in is the baby bjorn and even then only front facing and she doesn't sleep. She hated every wrap sling I've tried.

Donkeys - weirdly my dd doesn't like any noise apart from soothing lullabies which I put on to calm her down and at nap time. She used to get bad wind but that seems to have cleared up since 12 wks but ironically her sleep got worse then.

Double yew - I get the feeling my dd is desperate to move and am hoping desperately that will make a difference. I just feel everyone is staring at me with my crying baby when I'm out with the pram. The other mums I know seem to go out for lunch Etc and their babies either sit calmly or sleep in the pram. They don't understand why that's impossible for me and my dd. I've given up trying to take her anywhere that i can't get home from within 20 mins.

Thanks bees knees - I'm going to look into getting some sort of child care for a few hours. I don't have any family or friends nearby who can help and am struggling some days. I never expected it to be easy but it's been so much harder than I ever expected sad

WhatYouLookingAt Thu 13-Sep-12 19:26:48

Thats really early to be starting solids, 2 months earlier than recommended.

Have you investigated silent reflux?

haventgotaclue Thu 13-Sep-12 19:29:07

Op, I also had a baby that didn't sleep well, often waking every 2 hours or so (not to feed).

We found that a cranial osteopath helped, although it took a few sessions before we had sustained improvements.

In the meantime, DH and I would split the night, so that each of us could get some uninterrupted sleep i.e. I would sleep in the spare room until 2am and DH would deal with any wakings and then we would switch rooms. I appreciate this is only possible if DC isn't waking for food.

One thing for you to remember though us that everything seems much worse when you're not properly rested. I'm sure you're coping much better than you think you are.

Also, one piece of excellent advice I read on MN is never to compare the inside of your life with the outside of someone else's. We all put a brave face on things when we're out so others may not be coping as well as you think.

Nothing else to add I'm afraid, other than to say rest whenever you can. This too will pass.

lola88 Thu 13-Sep-12 19:38:27

OP i could have wrote your post DS was a total fucking nightmare for the first 4 months a nightmare for the next 2 months and now at 7 he's just a slight pain in the arse!

He only sleeps for 30 mins at a time almost to the min and is up and down all night about 4 months i decided to go back to work as soon as i wouldn't look like a shit mum my mat pay ran out but once he got past 4 months he started to improve and i'm not going back til he's 1.

I think it was exactly what you have said he wanted to be on the move and couldn't but once he started to sit up, roll over and now trying to crawl his mood improved so much. Before i would listen to him wailing because i left him for a min to brush my teeth but now he will sit up playing with his toys happily for 5/10 mins.

He's still a crap sleeper but i spent hours looking at info on over tiredness and the advice i found helped he takes 3/4 half hour naps now some of them involve screaming fits before he sleeps but i just keep going until he sleeps (don't change tactics pick one and stick to it she will get the idea) Try white noise worked a bit for DS.

It will get better try and sort some child care also the baby walker made DS a lot better he was in it at 4 months because he had some freedom. Have a moan to me any time you like i know how u feel.

JennerOSity Thu 13-Sep-12 21:22:12

ah yes Doubleyew - so she did. Sorry nothing more helpful to contribute. Hope it improves soon OP. thanks

Traceymac2 Thu 13-Sep-12 21:37:29

Starting solids at four months is fine. I live in Ireland and the national recommendation for FF babies is 4-6 months. I think you should look into silent reflux too, all 3 of my babies had it and being unsettled and crying all day plus sleep issues are all symptoms. You could start with gaviscon, give it a few days and see if it makes a difference. My dd was like this until she was put on Zantac and enfamil AR formula, she is happy and calm now. If it is reflux early weaning is recommended as it is supposed to help with this problem according to my dd's paediatrician.

WhatYouLookingAt Thu 13-Sep-12 21:40:19

No, its 6 months in Ireland too.

blue2 Thu 13-Sep-12 21:49:56

OP - Have you run all this past your HV? Looks like you have plenty of great suggestions from MNetters.

My ds - now 14 - was just AWFUL at the stage. Rarely napped during the day. I felt like a Butlins redcoat on permanent duty. He was awake every hour - 2 hours during the night. I ran on what felt like 'empty' for a long while. I got him into a nursery for half a day a week, and then did a full day when he was about 9 months old. I just went home to bed.

If its any consolation, he was a fabulous toddler (while all the rest were biting each other) and has gone on to be a great teenage boy... but we have a way to go yet!

Hang on in there.

DoubleYew Thu 13-Sep-12 22:04:24

The other mums I know seem to go out for lunch Etc and their babies either sit calmly or sleep in the pram. They don't understand why that's impossible for me and my dd Yes yes I also tried these fun lunches where all the others mums sit down and eat and chat while I pace up and down with a screaching baby. It will get better, by the time she can crawl, you will simply spend all of lunch time fishing her out of corners and other peoples tables - my ds wedged himself between a window and a reasonable well known author's legs once!)

Lots of babies go through a four month sleep regression because its a huge leap in their development, their brain is changing so much it wakes them up. Unfortunately if your baby is a crap sleeper this means it will get truely awful for a while.

I put so much energy into 'fixing' my ds's naps and sleep. And you know what it was all a waste of my time and just got me so frustrated. What actually helped was accepting I couldn't change him and one day he wouldn't be like this. And that has happened but its not been easy.

RowanTreesJoeAtChristmas Thu 13-Sep-12 23:09:45

Oh honestly I could have written this myself... TWICE! haha. Both my babies have been exactly as you describe. My first became infamous on here for all the threads I started begging for answers and advice on him and why he was such a grumpy baby. All my friends and family said it would be so different this time round, you never get wo babies the same, apparently <hollow laugh>. DS2 is now 8 months old and every bit the miserable whinge bag that DS1 was :-(

The good news is that DS1 is now 5 yrs old and truly is the light at the end of the tunnel. He is my entire life and is a very happy, well adjusted, interesting little person. DS2 will get there too (fingers crossed eh?!).

Please don't feel like a failure. I felt exactly the same with my first baby. It seemed like everyone else could cope, everyone else could go out and about and enjoy motherhood while I felt clueless and my baby screamed no matter what I did. We tried reflux medication, dairy free diet, cranial osteopathy. In the end it was just the fact that he was sensitive and didn't like being a baby and was frustrated and over tired constantly. He screamed in my arms every nao time, even then he only napped for 30 mins at a time and woke up just a tired and crabby. DS2 also does this. He screamed in the pushchair while everyone elses baby seemed happy to look around and smile.... that never happened for me. Basically he was miserable all the time. DS2 is the same although unlike DS1 at this age he is a much better eater, got to look on the bright side!

Anyway by the time DS1 could walk he was much happier, though still prone to meltdowns when tired or frustrated. By 18 months when he could talk he totally mellowed, he started to nap properly at the age of around 1 too which helped and everything got a lot easier. I know that seems like a lifetime away to you now but believe me you will survive. It will get better very gradually each month but so slowly you may not notice until you look back. Honestly, babies like this are HARD work and it seems like everyone is doing so much better than you but believe me, I coped with DS1's toddler years far better than all my friend's with those placid little angel babies that I was once so jealous of. For babies like ours, the terrible twos are a walk in the park by comparison! Try not to compare your baby too much. It drove me mad first time round. I don't do it with DS2, I know he's hard work but the rewards come later. We can do this!

Traceymac2 Fri 14-Sep-12 01:26:19

It's only 6 months in Ireland for breastfed babies, formula fed is 4-6 months. I have the HSE weaning booklet that clearly states this. Also dd's dietician said same. We only partially adopted WHO recommendations re weaning.

cory Fri 14-Sep-12 08:45:16

In Sweden midwives still seem to be saying 4-6 months, interestingly enough.

MillionPramMiles Fri 14-Sep-12 09:51:24

Thanks everyone for the advice. We did try reflux medication and a dairy free diet, neither made a difference. I'm sure it's over tiredness that's causing the grumpiness, on the rare occasions dd has slept well I've really noticed the difference, she's happy, smiley, wants to play, even giggles smile
I think dd is waking so much at night because she's trying to roll over or suck her thumb or get the dummy back in. All things that i hope will fix themselves in time. She's also teething so we used nurofen last night and she only woke 4 times.
I don't know whether the daytime naps will ever improve (even at 3 wks she didn't sleep all day, we had a maternity nurse for a couple of weeks who admitted defeat...).
My Hv suggested baby rice as an additional meal (not substituting a breastfeed) at the moment and then maybe carrot or apple from 17 weeks. Dd seems to really like the spoon (she keeps trying to grab mine while I'm eating my cereal...), if nothing else it's keeping her amused!
I think I need to let my dp help more and worry less what everyone else seems able to do. I also need to accept I need help a few hours a week so I can get a bit of sleep.
Rowantrees - that's exactly what my dd does in her pushchair! I didnt even manage to buy milk yesterday as she screamed so much in the supermarket. I wish I could just explain to her that I'm taking her somewhere fun she'll enjoy and it will only be 20 mins etc. I'm hoping once she can sit up, play with toys and munch on a rice cake it will get better...

Marmiteisyummy Fri 14-Sep-12 11:23:54

My DS was like yours. Nothing wrong health wise, just hated being a baby. I didn't get 5 hours sleep (broken) til he was 5 months. You're doing brilliantly. No one else would cope as well because no one loves your baby like you do. I tried everything too. Especially hard was that trips in buggy or car were accompanied by incessant, full on screaming. EVERY time! No let up, no days off.
Got easier from about 6 months. Slept through (8hours +) from 7.5 months. Now at 27 months he is the most incredible little man and like rowan, I've found the toddler months a walk in the park in comparison.
A couple of ideas, feel free to ignore!
The main thing that helped was teaching my DS to talk. Tried baby signing but didnt really get on with it. This dvd was fantastic and kept him occupied for 30mins from 6 months. I also think it really helped him e a very early talker. As soon as he could communicate, life was sooooo much easier!
When he could crawl, and then walk he was much happier. He did love his bouncer which though expensive was worth every penny because he loved that he could make the chair move by kicking his legs.
My DS slept much better with a fleece under the sheet, don't know why, maybe sorted his temp?
I used this sleep book. Took a while and a lot of heartache but it really helped and it was worth it. I did pick up put down.
It WILL get better. You are being a great mum. Just keep repeating the mumsnet mantra, this too shall pass.

RowanTreesJoeAtChristmas Fri 14-Sep-12 11:34:06

Million it will undoubtedly get better as her independence and understanding grows. My DS2 is very slightly better in the pushchair that DS1 was but still he gets bored, fidgets, cries etc if in there for too long or if we're not moving. He's 8 months old now and it's often possible to pass him a toy, drink, rusk etc to distract him for long enough to get home without a melt down. DS1 got massively better once he could chat to me and ask questions and I could explain where we were going and suddenly he started to enjoy going in the car, pushchair and we got a life again!

It will get better, really it will. This nightmare will end. My DS2 is only just starting to cheer up now and even now nap times are ALWAYS a battle, he's often over tired and grouchy. He is very high maintenance in the same way his brother was. I once got some amazing advice on here from a lovely lady who had had 2 babies like this too and she referred to the first year as being 'in the trenches', it's incredibly hard work. It feels like no-one else on earth has babies like this but they do. If you search for 'what the hell is wrong with my baby' thread in the search box at the top you will find a thread started by that lady and lots of my responses from when I was going through exactly what you are now. I was Meandmyjoe back then. It really does help to know others have been there and that it does end!

Tempernillo Fri 14-Sep-12 11:45:35

There are probably thousands of mothers who could have written your post. My dd was exactly the same. She has always been a "spirited" little thing. She is pretty good now most of the time, but I have just returned from a disastrous monkey music class where she basically had a tantrum through the whole class while all the other children were angelic, so feeling a bit inadequate myself right now! sad

Don't be fooled that everyone is coping so well. Noone will show you they are not coping, just as you probably try your hardest to project the best impression of yourself iyswim? If you scratch beneath the surface, uou'll find most mums feel exactly the same as you at times. Just come on here and you can see that!

Just know that you're not alone, and it will get easier I promise you, as dd adjusts to being in the world and you adjust to being a mum. And you are not a bad mum, you are doing your best and probably doing far better than you realise. smile

Tempernillo Fri 14-Sep-12 11:50:50

Sorry for thread hijack, but marmite, up to what age can that DVD be used? My dd made a promising start talking wise, but has stalled a bit and diesn't seem to be gaining new words very quickly or even starting to form sentenced. She is 20 months so certainly no cause for concern I hope, but she has been having some monster tantrums lately and I too feel that if she were a bit more verbal she could communicate better what she wants and I could negotiate a bit better with her!

Tempernillo Fri 14-Sep-12 11:55:49

And just one more thing (columbo style), don't feel that going back to work is necessarily a bad thing, if it's what you want. I went back to uni full time when dd was 8 months, and tbh I was more than ready to! She has a childminder who she adores, but we still have a really string attachment, and I feel so much better for it. I personally am just not designed to be a sahm, I got a bit depressed whilst at home with her, and it happened again over the summer break. Don't get me wrong I love her and love spending time with her, but I found the pressures of being at home and trying to run the household etc worse than being out at uni, I seem to get more done and feel better about myself when my days have a bit more structure. Just do what is best for you though. smile

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