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Please help - terrified I'm fucking up my baby

(46 Posts)
Masssivefuckup Tue 22-Sep-20 07:28:46

Please be kind. I andam miserable and scared that my 7 week old baby is not developing a secure attachment me.

I am having trouble feeding - baby wasn't gaining weight so we added in top ups - now breastfeeding plus pumping and adding in formula because i can't pump enough.. Constantly worrying about her latch and my supply and how we are ever going to be able to drop the top ups. I feel so awful because it's the one thing I should be able to do (see below about me being rubbish at other aspects of parenting) and I can't do it properly. Feeding sessions are stressful for both of us because I am constantly de- latching her to improve the latch and I'm terrified that she associates me and food with stress.

My partner has CFS and other chronic health issues so he doesn't work and is home full time (which is great in some ways, of course) but he really can't do nights as they would genuinely make him really sick and unable to do other stuff (he is currently doing loads of house work plus baby care - see below) so I am getting 2-4 hours sleep a night for the past 7 weeks.. I don't mind doing the nights so much but it means that in the days I am pretty useless and my partner takes over a lot of the playing with baby etc.. I have never been particularly confident around children but I thought I'd be ok with my own but I'm really not.. Her dad is so good and gets smiles and laughs etc but when I try I just don't know what to do.. I'm no good at being silly and when I try I just feel useless because I always get it wrong.

I've been getting so stressed and crying (proper sobbing) almost every day, including in front of the baby which I know is awful. I have noticed how she looks at her dad all the time and not at me.. I've been reading about developing secure attachment and I'm clearly fucking this up massively but I don't know how to make it better.

I don't know why I'm writing this really.. Please don't suggest going to the doctor - I've been depressed before and this isn't depression, it's exhaustion and a terrifying knowledge that my parenting skills aren't up to scratch.

Thanks for reading.

OP’s posts: |
bellinisurge Tue 22-Sep-20 07:49:46

Oh love. I would love to give you a big hug and tell you that you sound sleep deprived. You are working so hard to get things right for your baby. It's exhausting. I know you don't want to see a gp but, at least in my case, I found mine more helpful than bustling midwives and health visitors. Obviously it depends on the personality and style of the healthcare professional.
What support options do you have from friends and family?

bellinisurge Tue 22-Sep-20 07:50:50

As for the attachment. That cones with time. It can feel like a war zone with aliens to start off.

bellinisurge Tue 22-Sep-20 07:51:18

Comes with time, not cones with time

IncludeWomenInTheSequel Tue 22-Sep-20 07:52:19

You haven't had post natal depression before though. You definitely do need to see a doctor. ❤️

tyrannosaurustrip Tue 22-Sep-20 08:27:34

You really don't need to play with a 7 week old baby, I mean you need to be responsive to them as in not leave them crying, talk to them etc etc. But they don't need constant entertainment. I had a no -sleeper and was like a zombie most days, I now have a v securely attached two year old even if her daddy is better at duplo.

Step one, get breastfeeding support. Look at online counsellors, support groups, lactation consultants. Breastfeeding should be starting to work better at this point, you may need to investigate tongue tie again if you haven't already.

Step two, maybe talk to GP if this feeling doesn't lift. But really, at this age, you just need to be there: you and your baby are like warriors together at this stage, you just need to get through the nights together. It will get better, the sleep will ebb and flow, but you need outside support and you need to make sure you're napping in the day.

Smudgefell Tue 22-Sep-20 08:40:11

I just want to give you a big hug and say it’ll all be ok because IT WILL!

Sounds like you’re doing everything you can in a very difficult situation so you shouldn’t feel like a failure at all.

I got to 2 weeks before supplementing with formula and didn’t have half the stress you have so well done. Do NOT feel bad or think you’re not securing an attachment to your baby because you are.

Your baby feels loved and secure just by being with you, but can’t show it yet with hugs/saying “I love you” etc.

I felt the same in the early stages (that DH was able to be silly and get smiles and I wasn’t) but I think it’s just because they like seeing another face. He still gets huge smiles when he comes home! Sometimes dads are just better at silly play, but you will find your own little games and rituals that make her smile. Also don’t forget that you’re exhausted and it’s hard to be silly and fun when you feel drained. I still struggle sometimes now!

If you’re worried about breastfeeding and bonding etc. please don’t. I struggled so much and thought I’d fuck my baby up with formula but she’s now a feisty, strong and curious 6 month old. Try and get as much skin to skin cuddling in, even when feeding with bottle. Hug and snuggle her as much as you can, just look at her face and smile and she will respond eventually. Try and enjoy it while she is small enough to snuggle (easier said than done) and breastfeed/pump as much as feels comfortable for you but DO NOT stress yourself out over it/think you’re not doing enough. Any bit of breast milk she gets is great.

She is forming a strong bond with you, you’re just feeling awful and exhausted and can’t see or feel it. Don’t feel bad for crying in front of her. I’ve done it and honestly I don’t think they remember! I’m sure 99% of mothers have done this before. You can’t live your life never being upset in front of a newborn.

Talk to your GP/HV again if you feel it will help. You mentioned depression before and I also have experienced this so I know how easily it can creep up on you. Well done for posting on here, hope you feel better soon and remember that everything is a phase when they’re so small and it’ll change before you know it. Take it day by day and give yourself a big pat on the back! Sending virtual hugs.

ForestbytheSea Tue 22-Sep-20 08:46:27

It sounds like you are sleep deprived which makes you feel awful. I would suggest that you catch up on sleep during the day. Sleep when the baby is sleeping but also let your partner look after the baby whilst you go and have some uninterrupted sleep. As you have pumped and are mixed feeding, this shouldn’t be too difficult.

Seeline Tue 22-Sep-20 08:53:24

You don't have to drop the top ups. I mix fed my first as I just didn't have enough milk. Never got more than a drip or two pumping so he had some bottles and some breast. Worked brilliantly for both of us as it meant someone else could feed him sometimes.

My second totally refused anything other than boob and it was exhausting.

As long as your little one is fed it really doesn't matter how or who by.

DSsnmum Tue 22-Sep-20 08:58:54

First of all you need some sleep! Would DP be able to look after the LO in the day for a couple of hours so you can sleep? That will dramatically improve your state of mind. If you can get breast feeding support and it helps then fantastic but please don’t discount the option of bottle feeding. You and the baby both being happy is the main priority. I honestly didn’t bond with my first DS till he was about 4 months old. I was too tired, too shocked at the reality of having a baby and resentful of leaving my career for a year. But after that it got easier and he is now 4 and we have a lovely relationship. One thing I found helped me (it sounds a bit crazy!) was if I was feeling stressed, over tired etc I would sniff the top of his head. Sounds odd but the skin to skin and smell of him calmed me right down.

LotusRipple Tue 22-Sep-20 09:06:06

Big hug for you. I’ve been in a very similar situation. It’s so hard.
The following is not necessarily advice on what to do but might give you a bit of perspective/hope:

We were able to drop the top ups once he was back at birth weight. Then nappy count and weigh weekly. He gained massively.
I am also one of the mums not producing much milk with pumping. It’s not a sign of low supply necessarily. I also used the haakaa silicone device on the other breast whilst feeding to increase supply and have milk for top ups. Worked great.

Please speak to breast feeding support.

It’s clear you are doing your very best for your baby. You are not causing any developmental damage with what you describe above. Be kind to yourself.💖

ComicePear Tue 22-Sep-20 09:07:03

Please don't worry about secure attachment OP. This parenting thing is a marathon not a sprint - your child is only 7 weeks old, honestly most of us were in a sleep deprived haze at this point, just like you, and not doing much effective parenting.

As your partner is at home during the day (and I assume you aren't back at work yet) can't you get some sleep during the day to make up for the night times? More sleep would improve things 100%.

Also I noticed the sentence in your OP about constantly de latching during feeds to improve the latch. Why do you need to do that - is it painful for you? Do you think you are seeking a 'perfect' latch rather than a 'good enough' one?

Itllbeaninterestingchristmas Tue 22-Sep-20 09:11:38

It’s sounds like you are sleep deprived. Try and sleep whenever the baby sleeps, which is difficult o know.
Mix feeding is ok, I mix fed my first due to weight loss then I stopped the top ups. Now on number 2 also mix feeding due to weight loss (caused by cmpa, I’ve got tons of milk) through choice.
I give two bottles a day, she’s 7 weeks. I breast feed during the day and let her cluster feed in the evenings. She gets 90ml at midnight and then 90ml at 3am and back to breast feeding at 6 am.
Have you got a Hakka type pump? I can get as much with one of those whilst feeding her on the other side. Your milk supply will probably increase if you can some sleep. Can your partner do the early evening shift and you go to bed?
With regard to bonding, take a bath together. Your partner can pass her to you and take her from you for safe getting in and out. Just sit and cuddle her, you look at her face and she at yours. I don’t do anything like silly playing with mine.
It’s really hard

adagio Tue 22-Sep-20 09:14:30

What everyone else said, plus one thing I read/was told (can’t remember) is that when they are tiny, babies don’t actually realise the two of you are not one person - so you are comfort, warmth, security, Literally everything to your child (however you feed!) whereas daddy/anyone else is a different person. That sort of explained it well for me as to why daddy got more fun interaction in the early days, but I got more cuddles when crying and all the night shifts as they wanted to be ‘home’ (My 2 only ever wanted me when tiny and unhappy, particularly overnight). Also small babies are designed to feed more between 2-4am as humans have a prolactin surge and make more milk at that time. Nature is a bitch.

It will get better, it will pass - they do gradually sleep more. It feels relentless in the early days but it will be ok. Try and get some fresh air / walks every day to help you both get some sunshine and get out and about, even if you are knackered.

Try and be kind to yourself - it’s ok not to be ok, and you sound so overwrought by it all. Don’t be afraid to ask for help (gp) if you need it.

You are keeping a tiny human alive, you are doing a great job, your tiny human loves you so so much, promise! flowers

LonnyVonnyWilsonFrickett Tue 22-Sep-20 09:16:56

You sound sleep-deprived and anxious, you poor thing.

I'll get my arse handed to me for this but hey-ho - stop breastfeeding. It sounds absolutely bloody miserable. Pumping too, I don't know how you're managing it.

If you switch to exclusively bottle fed then DH can do a full weekend of night feeds - I know he has CFS but it doesn't have to be forever, just two nights will get your sleep back on track and you'll feel so much better.

Can you check in with your HV too?

As for playing etc, it's fine. She's YOUR baby - she is attached to YOU no matter what you do. The bath suggestion is lovely, just be sure to do it safely as pp says. Sit her on your knees facing you in the bath and just have a splash and a wee chat.

Pinkglittery Tue 22-Sep-20 09:18:01

You poor thing. Honest advice? Get rid of the expressing, formula feed all the way. If you can make things easier then do it. Don't beat yourself up about anything, just be kind to yourself and try to relax. It will all seem very insignificant in a years time. Hope things improve for you.

BertieBotts Tue 22-Sep-20 09:18:38

Has your baby been checked for tongue tie?

What everyone else said also smile

It is very normal that they look at things other than faces at this age. The face recognition comes a bit later. She is probably looking at your DP because he is further away so his movement is more obvious to her. DS1 was obsessed with light bulbs and DS2 just wanted to look at a stripy bit of our wallpaper for ages!

Don't worry. You're not getting anything wrong. X

Dinosaurpooped Tue 22-Sep-20 09:27:46

Find a lactation consultant ASAP and stop being so hard on yourself!
Google the ‘top up feeding trap’ and try to break the cycle. You are doing fine!

Keyperfect Tue 22-Sep-20 09:28:53

OP please please don't worry. I have 5 DCs, youngest is 5 months so I can really relate to what you've said.

When mine have been this little, I always feel invisible to them other than as a milk supply! While DH seems to get all their attention and smiles etc, I'm like a part of the furniture. I was worried about this myself but reading about it reassured me.
At this young age, you don't really exist as a person in your own right to your baby - you are an extension of them.

It does get better though and I now get lovely warm gooey smiles and cuddles when a few months back, all I got was deadpan, or just avoiding of looking at me at all!!

Hang in there, you are a wonderful mum who your baby adores. In time they will be able to show you and it will be so worth the wait!

WitchDancer Tue 22-Sep-20 09:39:43

I remember the feeling of being a rubbish mum at 8 weeks old, and the complete exhaustion. It really doesn't matter if you switch to formula feeds - you have given baby the benefit of breast feeding for 7 weeks, which will give them the benefit of your antibodies. I'm not saying you should, I'm saying you can if you want to and there is no shame in doing so.

I also remember watching DH with my babies and thinking he was so much better with them than I was. I withdrew a lot and let him do what was necessary, which made that feeling much worse. Once he went back to work I had to get in there and felt much closer to baby because of it. Your situation is different I know, but I feel you need to get that feeling of closeness back. Having quality time together - a bath as suggested already, or just one on one time in bed or on the settee.

What helped with my sleep deprivation was I did a feed around 8pm and then went to bed. DH did the midnight feed and then came to bed. I then took over the night feeds, which was usually about 3/4am - enough time for me to have a decent sleep, plus DH got enough sleep too.

You are doing a fantastic job.

Minimumstandard Tue 22-Sep-20 09:53:23

You need more sleep. Everything seems better when you've had a good chunk of sleep. If you're mixed feeding with a partner at home, take advantage of it even if he can't do nights. Express if you can (otherwise formula), hand baby over to him at 7am and sleep till noon. Do this for a few days. Sell it to your DP that it will stop him having a deranged madwoman on his hands. I was that deranged madwoman. DH was working long hours and not helping much. I ended up screaming loudly at DH when out for a pub lunch with the in laws with the whole pub staring at us because he'd forgotten the nappy bag. Didn't feel that attached to DS at that stage...He was a screaming little goblin who never slept and I'd probably had given him back if that has been an option. Now I love him to pieces! Sometimes it takes a while.

CorianderLord Tue 22-Sep-20 10:12:04

You're catastrophising, likely because of lack of sleep. Loads of women struggle with feeding - it's not a failure at all, sometimes it just is.

Also PND and regular depression are not the same presentation.

peachgreen Tue 22-Sep-20 10:18:02

Lots of good advice in this thread so I just wanted to add that I had severe post natal depression and barely looked at my baby for 3 months, DH did just about everything. She's now 2.5 and a confident, happy little girl with no attachment issues who always wants mummy if she's upset or tired or hurt or just generally for any reason! So please don't be worried that you're harming your child. You're doing a wonderful job.

Please also rethink seeing your GP. Post natal depression doesn't feel anything like normal depression. In fact I wish they rename it because it's so misleading. My PND felt like an absolute certainty that I was a terrible mother who should never have had children and my baby would be better off if I died and my husband could find a better wife and mum for her. It was unbelievably overwhelming and awful.

riotlady Tue 22-Sep-20 10:34:09

You sound like you’re doing absolutely fine! Sleep deprivation is the worst

- 7 week olds really don’t need to be played with, just fed, cuddled and changed.
- Formula is absolutely fine. I know it’s emotional when you’re in it, but I switched to formula when I struggled with breastfeeding and the relief was amazing. The early weeks of breastfeeding are the most important and you’ve done those.
- You don’t need to be an all singing all dancing mum for your baby to be securely attached, you just need to be “good enough”. Good enough means mostly being responsive to baby’s needs- feeding when they’re hungry, cuddling when they cry. I think so called bloody “attachment parenting” has a lot to answer for for making women worry about this, but secure attachment is just about knowing that a primary caregiver is there to meet your needs. That’s all.
- I would second talking to your gp about how you’re feeling, it does sound like you might have a bit of pnd.

Imloosingmyshit Tue 22-Sep-20 10:34:52

Stop worrying. Babies survive despite what we do! I had a fussy bf baby as well. You already know feeding is not straightforward. So before you feed, have a cup of t, chill out, and let dh hold baby. Then approach feeding in the mindset that it will take time, you have to re latch baby, and you will get there. If you keep taking her off and on, you won’t produce much milk if there’s no demand for it, you see? You need to stay calm. Baby picks up in your emotions and responds to them to in are absolutely right. But it’s just reactive - if you try to stay calm, she will be more calm and feeding will be easier. And once she’s had her fill, let her sleep then you have a nap/ lie down/sleep. Honestly, babies are hard work! You’re too tired to put effort into ‘playing’ and that’s why you can’t do it. Everything is stress filled for your right now. And it really doesn’t matter if you need to ‘ top up’ her feed. As long as she is getting what she needs. Try to turn your thoughts round from ‘ god this is going to be stressful’ to ‘ this will take time and I’m prepared for that’. Big hugs. But if you feel you can’t cope, or start feeling like you’re going to rage at baby, then get in touch with HV or GP and get some help. Loads of women get a bit of help during early stages. This is brand new to you and your baby, neither of you have done this before so you’re both learning right now. And think how long you had o go to school to learn!!!! 💐💐

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