Slightly worried – dyspraxic husband, new baby(29 Posts)
I wasn’t sure where to put this but would appreciate all opinions / advice / anything really.
We’re expecting our first child in late September, and we’re both very excited and delighted about it. There was a long struggle with infertility beforehand, and this is genuinely the happiest we’ve ever been in our lives.
I am, however, a bit worried about how we’ll cope with the demands of a new baby, given DH’s fairly significant dyspraxia. I’m basically worried that all practical tasks will fall to me and that it’ll put a strain on our relationship, especially at first when I’m sleep deprived and constantly breastfeeding etc. His dyspraxia is undiagnosed (help for the condition seems limited to under 18s, so I’m not sure there’s much point seeking a diagnosis) – but he ticks all the boxes and then some.
Just a few examples:
We’ve lived in our current house for over three years, but he still struggles with basic, everyday things like operating the blinds and working the dishwasher, despite being shown hundreds of times. He frequently puts his clothes on inside out / back to front – getting dressed is actually a little bit stressful for him, though of course we both make light of it. These difficulties are clearly very frustrating for him and he gets cross with himself – it’s not a case of learned helplessness or wilful male incompetence.
Unfortunately, it’s hard not to get cross with him myself sometimes, because it’s frustrating for both of us. I have noticed myself become a bit of a nag, which doesn’t help at all, but it’s the result of most practical household tasks falling to me if they’re going to be done right. I’m usually understanding about it and encouraging, but I’m not 100% patient all the time.
Cooking is another problem area – I’m going to batch cook and freeze a lot of meals this month, because I can’t be eating bread and pasta every day once the baby is here. I can’t even depend on him to bring me toast after a sleepless night of feeding and nappy changing tbh – he can’t spread toast properly, just seems to completely lack the coordination to do it.
Despite these gripes, our relationship is strong and healthy and we work around it. But with a baby, I worry not only that he won’t be able to step up and look after me in those first weeks and months when the demands on my body etc will be so high, but obviously that he won’t cope with looking after the baby and doing the practical tasks involved.
- If he struggles to dress himself, how will he cope with nappies, dressing and washing baby? (Obviously at first we will learn and do these things together, but the likelihood is that only one of us will learn in a way that will actually stick).
- If he is oblivious to certain things going on around him, how will he keep baby safe in the home if I’m not there?
And what will it do to our relationship if I will feel I have to do absolutely everything, not just during the day while he’s at work but at all times – will resentment creep in?
The problems with closing the blinds / stacking the dishwasher are silly and annoying, but they don’t harm anybody. But his extreme forgetfulness / awkwardness is more worrying when applied to baby tasks: will he remember to lay baby down with feet to the base of the cot, so he can’t wriggle down and suffocate? Will he remember to run a bath cold tap first? Will he remember you can’t give a whole grape to an infant as they might choke on it? In three years, he still hasn’t remembered that the recycling won’t take plastic bags....
With a baby, there are a zillion little things that you just have to get right, for safety’s sake, but these are exactly the sort of little things that he struggles with so much. So I fear it’s going to be a case of me not being able to trust that he’s done it right, ever, without checking myself as he’s doing it. We don’t have family nearby, which makes it all the more important that we feel we can rely on each other.
This has felt quite brutal to write, so just for the sake of balance: he is a loving, nurturing, kind and lovely person, who will make a wonderful father in all the other important ways. He is funny and empathetic and has high emotional intelligence. He’s a senior academic, speaks several languages fluently, and is a gifted musician. He’s adorable, really Just very dyspraxic
and if you made it to the end of that!
I would focus on things that he can do and doesn't need help with/nagging about. So, whilst cooking may not be a skill of his, I bet he's fine making drinks. So get him to set an hourly timer on his phone to bring you a drink as you will need to keep hydrated if breastfeeding for example.
Can you make a list of daily things he can do for him to refer to. Or write a step-by-step instruction card on how to change a nappy/dress baby/bath baby properly and pin it up next to the changing table.
Sorry if these suggestions are no use, I have no experience with dyspraxia but can see how you would be worried.
I'm dyspraxic, and have struggled with a lot of the things you mentioned!
How much research has he done on dyspraxia in adults? Eg there are books aimed at adults, Facebook support groups, and the dyspraxia foundation website. Most of the support is aimed at children, but that's changing as more adults realise they are dyspraxic.
I definitely found helpful advice in those books etc. The key thing for me has been making visual schedules / reminder lists of things to check, and setting up very clear routines.
Slightly different but dh had a stroke when ds was very young and struggled with a weak side for a long time.
Keep clothing simple - soft trousers and tee shirts, light jumpers. Poppers are a bastard and baby grows are the bastardest. H&m do nice jersey feeted trousers and popper vest (only 3 poppers and it's not vital that they're all done up straight!) sets. Buy a zip up snow suit, although beware padded ones as they're not ok in the car.
Reusable Velcro fastening nappies. Disposables rip very easily, with cloth you get as many attempts as needed to get it right.
Research bouncy chair carefully as the clips can be an absolute bugger. Ditto car seats and pushchair clips - go and play with different ones to see what he can manage.
I have a dyspraxic friend who actually finds a carrier easier than a pram, so have a look for your nearest sling library and try a few out. There'll be a consultant around to show you the types and how they work
You will need some practical support to feel sane. I know people do it on their own, but I bet most of them find it quite hard. Can you get a mother's help for a few weeks after the birth? Just to do laundry, dishwasher type things.
I agree with MrsHulk you might need laminated checklists, eg next to the baby's cot with all the SIDS recommendations, then one next to the dishwasher of the common things he's done wrong in the past.
Oh thanks so much for the advice everyone, you've made me feel a lot better already with these tips.
Tralala, MrsHulk, and Alice - your suggestions of laminated checklists, cotside step-by-step instructions and so on are perfect. It has come up before actually - he has said that he thinks he'd benefit from index cards blue-tacked to the recycling and dishwasher etc, with reminders of what to do. Shamefully, I sort of dismissed the idea as OTT because he 'should' just be able to remember these things (I know, this is bad of me). I'm reversing that position as of now. Thank you.
That will help with the memory and organisational side of the problem. The lack of coordination and dexterity will remain (so no decently-spread toast for me), but what you say Tralala about focusing on the stuff he can do is spot on. He can drive, and can use a hoover, and can take the bins out. He'll be able to reheat the food I batch cook now. Phone timers sounds like a good idea too.
I think if he does the tasks he can do, and we get outside help for cleaning the house, and we utilise the checklist suggestions, that will improve the situation quite a bit. Alice I haven't heard of mother's helps, I will look into it. But I might feel a bit weird about having a stranger in the house, I don't know.
GeoffreysGoat funnily enough we have both cloth nappies and slings at the ready! I'm actually glad to hear you say that disposables have their own problems, as I'd suspected I was going to be making our lives harder with cloth given his dyspraxia - I thought cloth nappies themselves are more complex structurally, and he does struggle with laundry (I'm happy to let laundry be an area left entirely to me, but obviously the first months will be harder if it's all on me).
With slings, I would like to wrap but I know this will be very much beyond him (as putting a t-shirt on correctly is hard enough), so we've bought a Connecta in the hope that buckles will be easier. He's very determined to learn, and I think he will get there. (I'm still going to buy a wrap just for me to use though!)
Our car seat is going to be an absolutely nightmare, we know this already. We wanted an Isofix for this reason, but none of them would sit correctly in our car when we were trying them all out at Mothercare. They were all stubbornly tilted, no matter what. So we had to get one you strap in, and I foresee huge problems for him there. Can car seats just stay permanently strapped in the car, with baby being lifted in and out? I'm really hoping so...
Oh, and MrsHulk we haven't read any books on it no, but have looked at the forums - that's how we first realised that he was dyspraxic, as the things people were describing were eerily familiar. The exact same things he struggles with kept being mentioned - it was weird, but reassuring to see that there's a reason he's like this, and that it's not just him. Do you find the facebook support group good?
Ds1 was in cloth from 5 days, the stroke was at 5 weeks. Funnily enough, even in the very early days he could manage to bung in a wash and hang it out later between rests. Bf poo is water soluble so rinse, 40* wash, rinse them line dry. Not too much powder. IMO getting to the shops to buy more nappies, storing them, storing the stinky ones then carrying them down stairs for the binmen would be a damn sight harder than bunging on a wash!
If your thinking of washing nappies, consider washable wipes too. Those plastic packets are fiddly.
Change mat on the floor not a changing unit or cot top changer. Babies wriggle after the first couple of months and attempt to fling themselves on the floor. So you have to do everything one handed...
Oh and dh and I have our own slings - he likes rose and rebellion, I tend to wrap
Yes, we have separate carriers too. Partner uses the Ergo - very easy, especially if no one else ever uses it (ie straps don't need adjusting. I use a wrap and everyone always comments that it looks complicated. It isn't, but it is more complicated than putting on a t-shirt!
I agree, always, always change the nappy on the floor. In fact if your baby tolerates it, always put them on the floor or under a gym rather than a bouncer if you are worried about buckles. We have a BabyBjorn bouncer which you can slip the baby into while it's still done up (and it's relatively attractive as a bonus).
I think it sounds great that your husband is keen to make changes and do whatever he can to mitigate his condition. Half the battle is often getting the other person to recognise that there's an issue!
Maybe meet a couple of cleaners/mother's helps before the birth so you know whether you feel comfortable with them individually. I know doulas often provide a postnatal service too even if you haven't had them at the birth.
My daughter is dyspraxic is this your own observations or does your husband believe he is dyspraxic? How would he feel about photo reminders? Like a story board step by step guide?
Have a look on disability aid websites, my daughter has care cutlery which helps her. There may be other items that will help your husband and often they are VAT free - you enter the details of disability in a text box.
Thank you all. Alibobbob he definitely thinks he is dyspraxic, yes. There's no denying it really, it's just so obvious.
I seem to be having some sort of meltdown today. It hasn't been the best of days - some cat food got into DH's underpants drawer (don't ask, but yes it was down to his lack of attention / general obliviousness), he put his bank card through the wash, I had to do a double wash of his stuff because he hadn't listened to me about something, and now I'm in such a bad mood that I'm sure I'm a nightmare to be around, because I've allowed myself to get so worked up. Actually cried earlier.
This is stuff that I'd normally shrug off or laugh about, but I'm going to be full term in four weeks time and it's just so clear that I can't rely on him for anything. If I do, something invariably goes wrong that generally means twice as much work for me to put it right than if I'd just done the thing myself in the first place. It's just so frustrating.
I'm just so worried that it's all going to fall apart when the baby is here. The dyspraxia is not his fault, and the difficulties it throws up in daily life are not his fault, but I'm still cross with him because I feel he isn't compensating for his difficulties enough. He knows he has extra problems, so why doesn't he seem to be making adequate efforts to prepare? He's barely read a word about baby care tbh, and the bedroom is full of books on the subject. Ditto childbirth. We had said we'd try to get him cooking at least a few simple recipes this summer but it hasn't happened - he'd do it if I sat him down one day and gave him a lesson, but he never once suggests it himself. It all seems to be left up to me.
He's always keen to help, and to listen, but I have to ask first every single time - he shows no initiative. If I ask him to help me tidy the kitchen it's not enough, I have to break it down into baby steps otherwise he doesn't know what to do or where to start, and will generally wander off. So it's: pick up that; put that in the bin; now change the recyclying bag; now wipe that table; you'll need to move that out of the way first, etc etc etc. I hate listening to myself doing that, I sound so bossy. But if I need help, it's the only way I can get help. And if I don't ask, it won't happen at all, or he'll begin to 'tidy' but then think it's done when a couple of glasses have been put away, when the room is clearly still full of clutter and dirt. So when I'm breastfeeding and sleep deprived, am I really going to be barking out instructions from the sofa, babystep by babystep? I doubt I'll have the energy or patience. We can't afford outside help and I don't have family, so that's that I guess. Things will start to fall apart, won't they. We'll be living in a tip by the end of the first week.
He is excited about our baby and becoming a dad, and is always responsive and keen to help if I say I need help or if I tell him something's wrong. But no initiative is taken on his part. He doesn't ask questions. If you looked at his recent internet search history, you'd have no idea anything in his life had changed since last year - you wouldn't be able to tell he was about to become a father.
I gloomily suspect now that this aspect of the problem is just him being a compartmentalising man, and me being a hormonal over-invested mother bear
I think you might be overly stressing about future potential problems. Obviously it might well come to pass but you aren't helping yourself by getting worked up about what May happen.
Lots of men just don't really get it pre baby actually coming, they can't relate to the books, it all seems a bit abstract.. Give him a chance to change that once he/she comes..
All those suggestions about photo board etc seem useful and yes annoying that it has to come from you but if it will make life easier in the long run you might have to suck it up a bit..
You are going to be hormonal and sleep deprived but hopefully you will have a good birth with an easy baby...and if the house is a bit of a tip so what? Can you hire a cleaner for just the first few weeks so you aren't worried about it?
It sounds incredibly annoying so I can understand why you are frustrated but, in the nicest possible way, you chose to have a baby with him, knowing what he is like. Perhaps you need to focus on his good points?!!
Thanks for that Peppa, I needed that. You're right, I am stressing too much about future what ifs, and focusing too much on the negative. I think combination of bad dyspraxia morning + my heavily pregnant state + worry about baby still being transverse just all got on top of me. Good news is that baby is now head down (saw midwife today), so that's one less thing to stress about.
The dyspraxia mishaps continue apace today though. Seriously need to start implementing some of the suggestions on here, and also holding him to his promises about actually doing some reading and learning. You're right though - it is more abstract for men at this stage, and as feminist as he says he is, he's not the one wee human growing in his uterus. It can't possibly be as real and immediate for him as it is for me, I guess. I just want him to show that he's willing to compensate for his condition a bit, by starting to learn now.
He fucked up the washing? He fucking well redoes it! Maybe you need to stop rescuing him?
I'm dyspraxic and the vast vast majority of tasks regarding our, now healthy and safe, 9 months old have fallen to me.
It's not as severe as what you describe for your partner -but a lot is very familiar. You will be amazed about how much you can do and how much the father can do. What you do both need to be aware of is doing as much as possible to help Each other. I was, and still an, actually quite proud of myself for how much I've stepped up ok on having a baby. I work really hard to complete tasks that some find easier - yes- but I absolutely do it.
My dh isn't dispraxic but he still cannot fathom the car seats. He struggles to unfold the pushchairs etc.
I think see what he can do when the baby comes and designate those jobs.
Checklist is a great idea.
Message withdrawn at poster's request.
I think you perhaps need to spell out to him how you are feeling, eg you don't feel he is interested in learning thing about baby/you hoped he would put strategies in place before baby arrived etc..does he have any idea that this is your expectation?
I often got caught up in crossness with DH not doing something that I thought it was glaringly obvious I wanted but he just couldn't see it..
You sound lovely, and very well prepared and you will be fine either way but with a bit of luck he will step up too
I can understand your frustration but I reckon you'll all surprise yourselves at your abilities!
A few things that helped me a lot in the early days were:
- co-sleeping with the baby beside me on the double bed in a Sleepyhead (DH moved to a futon for a while). I really needed the space, bedside table, easy to clamber out etc.
- disposable nappies until we got used to having a new baby (a month or so and then we switched over). This honestly for me would have been the straw to break the camel's back.
- dinners in the freezer. I suggest you make some recipe cards and shopping lists!
- A reclining baby bouncy chair.
The car seat can stay in the car, but perhaps better would be one where the seat clicks into a base that straps into the seatbelt. Isofix is not the only option. Then you have the convenience of being able to lift the sleeping baby out in the car seat and click the whole thing into the buggy.
You might do what I did when my mum came to stay - leave the buggy permanently fully assembled so that there's no confusion about setting it up.
You are going to have a lot on your shoulders, that's for sure. But honestly, I suspect that very few dads-to-be read the books. It really doesn't mean that they won't be amazing parents, as indeed you have said.
I'm dyspraxic and got 2 through to near their teens (so far) without bumping them off. They've inherited it and almost knobbled me, a fair few times, though.
What you're describing seems to go beyond dyspraxia, btw. Dyspraxia is more about not being able to help the clumsy movements that result in catshit on the underpants, rather than not even noticing or caring about the catfood on the underpants.
My more severely affected than me DS would be: handle underpants - somehow end up with cat food on underpants - freak the hell out and want to throw underpants away.
And yes, I would make him analyse what went wrong and try again, even though it would take him many attempts to avoid getting his underpants in the cat food. He would eventually learn how to keep his underpants cat food free if he wanted clean ones. (From experience, I feel strongly that, if you were the dyspraxic one, you'd be learning to live with and around it, pretty sharpish)
And iirc, purple isn't speaking from a position of ignorance.
This sounds like more than an issue with dyspraxia tbh OP.
The cat food in underwear / things ruining washing sound like more lack of certain functioning.
Your posts sound like your intuition is telling you something isn't right with the way he feels or doesn't feel about the realities of the responsibility to help you.
Forgive me if I'm wrong!
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