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Feeling like I let my newborn down

(31 Posts)
catlike1979 Wed 25-May-16 13:18:07

I'm struggling so much with feelings of guilt and remorse, and I'm hoping that by sharing this I can somehow come to terms with my feelings and move on. Apologies for long post....

DS1 was born at the beginning of January, 6 weeks premature. Thankfully he was healthy but had to stay in hospital for 2 weeks to establish feeding. When he came home we had to feed him through a stomach tube for a further 3 weeks which was exhuasting as it meant an endless cycle of attempting a breast feed, then tube feeding, then expressing, every 3-4 hours day and night. Finally I got him fully breast feeding, which he still is, but then owing to an undiagnosed tongue tie, feeds were taking 1.5-2 hours each time which at night was pretty tough.

3 weeks after he was home, DS started making VERY loud grunting noises when sleeping. I'm a terribly light sleeper so I just couldn't sleep in the room with him, despite trying night after night even with ear plugs, white noise etc. I was too scared to put him in his own room at such a young age. After 4 nights with absolutely no sleep, my DH sent me to spare room so I could sleep. Despite continuing to try to sleep with DS at regular intervals, it was impossible and as DH could sleep through the noise, we ended up me sleeping in spare room for approx 6 weeks and DH would bring DS in to feed through the night. The noises also meant I could never nap during the day when DS was sleeping.

During this period although I was BF, I started to feel quite detached sleeping apart. DH was very aware of DS's sleeping habits but I wasn't. This made me feel very disconnected but rather than try to do more to understand his sleep, I just retreated away to a different room and in some ways it feels like I stopped caring. DH managed to get DS to sleep at night in his moses basket with a hand constantly on his tummy which helped him to stay down. I just couldn't cope with this - lying there for hours wide awake whilst DS grunted and I had to keep my hand on him the whole time - there is no way I would have a minute's sleep so I just let DH deal with it. During this period, even when I tried to settle DS to sleep, if it didn't work within 5 minutes I would be in tears and handing him over to DH as I couldn't cope with the frustration. This still makes me feel like a total failure when I share stories with other new mums who have been up for hours at a time settling their babies at night.

At about 3 months, things really started to change and DS became a quiet sleeper, and would stay down for longer periods, plus I discovered bedsharing - life saver!!! Now at 4.5 months things are great and I do the majority of the night time duties and I am enjoying it (as much as you can being up in the middle of the night!)

I feel though like I "gave up" on him during those early months. I can kind of justify the fact I had to sleep in spare room because those few hours sleep I got in between feeds meant I was able to function and cope with looking after him the next day. But I couldn't deal with the settling and keeping him down in his moses basket and I suppose I let DH "take ownership" of the situation. New mums are supposed to be the ones in charge with support from DH but I feel like it was the other way round. I felt aggrieved and frightened sometimes when DH left me to sleep with DS on my own as I couldn't deal with the feelings of hopelessness and frustration at trying to get him to sleep and failing. I feel like I just passed him over to DH and now things are better, I don't deserve to enjoy the better times.

I compare myself to other new mums who do everything at night, and whilst I know how very lucky I am to have such a supportive DH, it just makes me feel like I let my baby down by not being there for him when he was a poor sleeper.

These feelings are really impacting my enjoyment of my time with DS now in the present, and I just want to be able to move on and not feel such crushing guilt and regret. I wish I could go back and change things and "do the newborn phase again" but better, but obviously I can't.

Can anyone help with this, has anyone experienced similar feelings or situation?

Thank you in advance x

Sleepybunny Wed 25-May-16 13:34:04

Oh my goodness, please do not beat yourself up! You've been there for your little bundle through some very challenging times and still managed to breast feed and care for him.
You're both obviously a strong couple to divide up the night and manage everything together. I would love to have had more help from DH, but it just didn't work for us that way.

It is incredibly frustrating getting them to sleep and I think any new mum would be lying if they didn't also feel that way at times.

Chin up, your clearly a fab mum to worry so much.

beginnersewer Wed 25-May-16 13:39:10

For different reasons I also struggled with the newborn stage and enjoyed things much more once baby slept through the night.
It sounds to me that like most parents you both muddled through those early weeks of exhaustion by finding a compromise that worked for you. And you had the extra stress of the prematurity and the feeding difficulties: it sounds like you did amazingly well to continue breastfeeding but the strain has taken its toll on you.

Maybe a few things to consider in case they help? (Not necessarily in a logical order)

- your son will not remember any of it so it is good you are looking to make peace with it before it affects your time together in future when he will remember.
- maybe your husband would have felt left out if you had done it all yourself and wouldn't have bonded with your son in the same way. Or if you had been forced to do it all because your husband wouldn't help you might have felt resentful.
-How does your husband feel about the situation? Is he reassuring?
- if you had continued staying in the same room the sleep deprivation might have led to worse consequences than the arrangement you came to (eg resentment of the baby, accidents if you were driving).
- if you are feeling irrationally negative about your parenting abilities have you talked to your health visitor or GP about it?

I hope you can move on and enjoy your time now.

educatingarti Wed 25-May-16 13:41:55

So, your Ds has two parents and you have enabled his dad to develop a really strong bond with him too which is fantastic! I can't see any reason why you would need to feel guilty at all.

Please don't worry. It sounds as if both you and your dh are sharing the care of your son in a fantastic way. Just enjoy the relationship you both have with him!

If you are finding it difficult to relax and stop feeling guilty and anxious despite the 100% reassurance of everyone on here that you haven't done anything bad, then please do discuss it with your health visitor or go in case you have some post-natal depression (which is temporary and can be treated really effectively if you do perhaps have it)

educatingarti Wed 25-May-16 13:43:02

Gp not go!

educatingarti Wed 25-May-16 13:47:45

Ps- those mums who talk about being up all night with newborns - have you asked anyone what they would have done if their baby had a really relaxed and strong bond with dad and where dad could settle baby to sleep and was willing to do so? My bet is that 90% or more would have taken the opportunity to sleep in a different room!

Dovetale Wed 25-May-16 14:48:25

We had a similar situation, I couldn't sleep next to DD and DH ended up sleeping next to her because he could. I remember the guilt and feeling like I didn't fit in with the other mums.

However this has eased, she is 3 now and I feel grateful to have a supportive DH who viewed/views parenting as a joint task and cared enough to support me.

I view it now as an early sign of what great parent he has turned out to be, I hope the same will be true for you.

drivinmecrazy Wed 25-May-16 14:59:55

I had a torrid time with DD1 during her first few months, a time during which DH found it so easy to settle and bond with her. His patience was endless. Meanwhile I struggled to keep it together enough to feed her.
His bond with her was amazing, and while I look back on those first few months with guilt, he looks back on them with fondness.
DD1 is now 15 and her and I are as close as close can be, as is DH.
DD2, on the other hand, I was so determined to do things differently meant that DH was pretty much shut out of her early weeks. fortunately feeding her was an easy experience and she only ever wanted me. In hindsight it took DH a lot longer to bond with DD2.
I don't know that I have ever let go of my guilt over DD1 and her early months, but I can assure you that is totally my issue, not hers. It has not affected her one iota.
And I have to say, what an amazing job you have done to get to the point that you are feeding your DS after the start you both had. That in itself is an amazing achievement, well done!!

albertcampionscat Wed 25-May-16 15:01:31

Fuck that shit.

The kid is happy, fed, cared for and loved by at least two people. You and your husband have been sensible, generous parents who've done the right thing for him at each stage. There's years and years ahead of motherhood to muddle through and a tonne more mistakes to make. You'll be okay. So will he.

Coconut0il Wed 25-May-16 15:05:18

Aww OP you definitely have not let your DS down. You and your DH are a proper team and you worked together to give your DS the best possible start.
Your DS was cared for and I think it's lovely that your DH supported you this way.
You say things are great now so please don't beat yourself up anymore. I do think we feel guilty about things we shouldn't, my DS2 is 9 months and I always feel guilty..he's not napping enough, he's not eating enough, I'm not playing with him enough!!

lavenderdoilly Wed 25-May-16 15:05:42

Poor you. I had to go back into hospital just after dd was born. I wouldn't take her with me because I was too poorly to care for her myself and, correctly as it turned out, I feared they wouldn’t have enough staff available to help me care for her. DH and mil cared for her. 9 years ago and it can still eat into me if I let it. Please find a place to put this. Be proud of your achievements - bf is amazing in the circs. I gave up because of my poorliness - that'll get me too if I let it.

KP86 Wed 25-May-16 15:19:25

You are no more your DC's parent than DH. (I say that to mean that it's no more your job to be up with him at night compared with DH.) It's fabulous that DH has had the opportunity to bond with DS AND especially important that you (hopefully) got some good quality sleep during those tough first few months.

Don't feel guilty, your DC is very lucky to have close relationships with both of his parents.

Caterina99 Wed 25-May-16 16:07:17

Sounds like you coped amazingly well. Feeding round the clock and for hours at a time is exhausting. Plus the stress of all the extra issues. And you were there for him at night - you fed him!!!

It's not strange at all for the dad to bring the baby to the mum for feeds and then deal with the settling etc. Your mum friends that didn't do this, presumably had babies that were easy enough to settle. My cousin had a night nanny that did this job for her. And her baby wasn't premature or anything.

If things are going well now then focus on that and the future. I know not everyone feels the same as I do, but I think you need to think of it as we survived the first few months as a team! I had a tough time breastfeeding DS (now 11 months) and eventually moved to formula. I was so upset and felt like a failure. I have come to realise now that even at less than a year old that as long as he is fed and loved it doesn't matter how he was fed as newborn and that what was a big deal at baby group when he was tiny, just isn't even brought up anymore. It's all weaning and walking and first words now. Feeding and nights seem like the most important thing when you have a newborn because they are your entire life, but even in a few short months you'll be on to the next phase. Good luck

knittingbee Wed 25-May-16 20:28:51

If it was the other way round, and you had been able to settle DS at night but your husband had done everything else, would you think your husband was a failure? It's the pressure to do it all that we put on ourselves as mothers which is madness. Your DH is his parent and it's wonderful he's been able to play such an active role in those early days - many don't bother or feel excluded because of BF/maternity leave meaning that mum is constantly attached to baby. You're not at fault here.

BotBotticelli Wed 25-May-16 20:35:06

Hi OP, not everyone can/wants to sleep in a bedroom with their newborn! It's wonderful that your husband helped out the way he did. All your baby will know is that he was comforted and fed when he needed it.

In case it's interesting for you to hear another mums story:

My son was born at 41 weeks but we had hideous trouble breast feeding and I gave up and put him on bottles at 3 weeks old. Even when he was on bottles he was so unsettled and colicky/windy/noisy at night. Grunting and straining all night.

I was getting no sleep. He would sleep for 2 hours between bottles and I would lie awake the whole time in a state of utter anxiety, panicking that i couldn't sleep, knowing how hideous j was going to feel the next day and being unable to stop it. I had less than 3 hours sleep a night and basically had a horrendous breakdown around week 5. Looking back on it now I think I needed some serious medical help at that point. What I did do was put the baby in his own room (Moses basket inside cot) when he was 5 weeks old. I cried the first night we did it he looked so small in there. But then that night I got 3 X 3 hour blocks of sleep in between bottles and woke up the next day feeling so so so much better.

What j am saying is: you saw you couldn't cope with no sleep and addressed it. Which makes out an amazing mum. I was howling on the floor most d the day when DS was 4wo. At least you didn't let that happen!

Fwiw almost three yeas later I had a second baby boy. He was a dreamy peaceful newborn baby who slept quietly like a log, woke every three hours, drained his bottle, did a burp and went straight back to sleep. Easy. Piece of piss. Totally different experience to DS1. We kept DS2 in our room for 4 months cos he was no trouble at all. Just goes to show some babies are easy to sleep next to and some are just not,,,,,it's not YOU. It's the baby.

corythatwas Thu 26-May-16 10:22:01

Your ds was settled to sleep by one of his two loving parents after the other loving parent had fed him: I don't see what he has to grumble about smile

You and your dh have worked together to get through the difficult baby stage and in the process you have given your ds the wonderful gift of allowing him to bond deeply and closely with both his parents.

"New mums are supposed to be the ones in charge with support from DH"- and they wonder why so many men are afraid to deal with their own children without supervision...

Seriously, the way you have handled things is not going to be a disadvantage to your ds: it's a massive advantage!!!

When my ds was born I was quite ill and for the first few days dh did all the care because I couldn't stand upright. So he was the one who first found out what it is like to bath a prem baby and get the nappies to stay on. Once he had to go back to work my parents stayed with me and did everything except breastfeeding. They did it in shifts so my mother (a night owl) did the evening and midnight settling and my father (an early bird) did the settling after the early morning feeds and dh did everything when he was at home. Ds was not being disadvantaged, I was not failing him as a mother, we were all meeting his needs as a family.

And having been very hands-on with both his babies, without constant supervision on my part, has turned dh into a very confident dad- absolutely no disadvantage to anyone in the family.

Araminkin Thu 26-May-16 19:24:33

The grunting really messed up my sleep too! So my DS slept on my DH's side of the bed so at least I wasn't next to him. And when I was really sleep deprived I slept in another room for a couple of nights and my DH gave DS a bottle (otherwise I was breastfeeding).

I see it as we are 2 parents and we do what we can to help. Don't beat yourself up! This was the only way I could function!

scandichick Thu 26-May-16 19:33:11

You have absolutely nothing to feel guilty about, his dad was there the whole time! I actually thought you were going to say you'd put him in his own room (which I wouldn't do personally, but it doesn't merit a Bad Parent Award either if you have to in order to cope).

Not only does your baby have a lovely bond to his dad now, which is extremely beneficial for their development, your husband has also proved himself to be the opposite of the tosspots you read about on here all the time.

Think about it, you've managed to follow SIDS guidelines to the letter, fostered attachment with both parents, and everyone got some sleep. You've done better than we have in our house, I can tell you that...

Mellifera Thu 26-May-16 19:39:10

Please don't feel guilty. I have an amazing DH who always coped with sleep deprivation better than I did, even when he was working and I was a sahm.

I bf all mine but being up in the night more than 2 nights in a row would turn me into a zombie, I couldn't function during the day. DH brought the LO for feeding time and then took them off to listen to music etc. All had colic badly from 2-5 months and woke during the night.
He liked it, was calmer, babies slept quicker, win-win.

Your DH sounds similarly amazing so please be happy that your DS has had that experience of being bf by you and still got lots of cuddles from your DH.

In my view, those early months are no piece of cake. Whatever gets you through it, do it, without feeling guilty.

You are an equally amazing mum than those mums who speak about being up all night. I used to reply that it would have pushed me over the edge, so I took every help from DH.

Chin up Op. If your feelings of guilt linger, speak to your DH about it, I bet he was happy to help and be needed.

waterrat Thu 26-May-16 21:40:24

My husband cpuld always get both my children to sleep at night while I was usually a sobbing mess by bedtime in the first weeks. You created a brilliant set up that enabled you all to thrive as a family. Well done !

catlike1979 Fri 27-May-16 11:51:38

Thank you so much everyone for such kind and positive comments, I feel so much better reading these replies. Having thought a lot about it, I think my feelings are more based on feeling ashamed of myself for not doing more, than a guilt that DS was not well looked after. I know that he was always in 100% best care whether that was from me or DH and that is obviously the most important thing. As everyone says, it's wonderful that DS and DH now have such a close bond and I am very lucky to have such an involved partner.

Now that times are easier, I look back and think - why didn't I/couldn't I do more? Why did I let DH settle him that night when I could have just tried a bit harder/bit longer to do it myself? But hindsight is a wonderful thing and maybe I'm forgetting just how bad it was in the moment?

It's almost like I feel I need to have practically broken myself to be able to now enjoy the easier times with my 4.5 month old, like somehow doing so would mean I deserve now to sit back now and think - phew that was hard but now I'm reaping the rewards of my endurance..... does that make any sense??? Probably sounds so twisted but that's the best way I can explain the thought process......

catlike1979 Fri 27-May-16 12:22:31

And also feel bad that at times I just really couldn't be @rsed to settle DS and let DH do it - feel like therefore I've not always done my best...

DameDiazepamTheDramaQueen Fri 27-May-16 12:31:36

I remember having similar issues, I was too strung up to sleep through ds's grunting like you.

Do what you have to do to get through the day, or night! Don't compare yourself to other mums as you have NO idea what they are doing and if their dh's are helping out.

You have a good family unit as your dh is taking responsibility as he should, a mother shouldn't have to do everything herself !

Honestly, in ten year's time whether or not you slept with your baby at night won't even cross your mind as it's not important.


DameDiazepamTheDramaQueen Fri 27-May-16 12:33:26

My ds was prem too- I was a really mess and focusing on non important issues, think it all stemmed from lack of control.

Mellifera Sat 28-May-16 14:32:21

There will be many more times when it is better for your DH to take over - or you from him. Your parenting evolves with your growing child, you cannot know what you find easy or what pushes your buttons and is better handled by DH.

As long as you talk, you can handle any situation together. My DH is far better at reading bedtime stories, I am just knackered at the end of the day. I wouldn't stay calm if dc started playing up.
I quite like doing stuff with my dc, getting them involved in adult things, like carpentery and beekeeping. Or doing arts and crafts with them. DH doesn't like that.

Your thoughts are understandable, but in the situation you dealt with it as best as you could. You know your needs and as long as baby is looked after, you have to look after yourself.
What good would it be if those broken nights would have turned you into a nervous wreck, unable to look after your ds during the day. Maybe you would have had to call DH from work because of it (I had to once). You both found a solution. And you did most of the hard work! Don't belittle your hard work with a tiny baby just because you didn't do ALL of it.

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