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Finding motherhood so hard - come and reassure me please!

(20 Posts)
Minicooper Fri 12-Sep-08 14:55:14

I have one very much wanted, very much loved dd who is just over 9 months old. She's great mostly, happy, developing well, but sleep is a problem - waking anywhere between once (which is heaven and rare!) to 5 times a night. She screams violently and can't be settled without a breast feed on most occasions. We've worked on her bedtime routine, using gradual retreat and she now goes to sleep in her cot, but I'm still in the room. Meal times are also stressful - she isn't keen on eating and takes forever to eat, often crying through meals too. sad My dh is struggling too and looks miserable much of the time. His job is really stressful at the moment and as he works from home its tough as we both have to be v aware of not disturbing each other. We have no family nearby and haven't yet managed time for the 2 of us since she was born. Its starting to take its toll, but I'm not sure what we can do. Any suggestions, or is it just a matter of time? I'm exhausted and tho I love her v much, starting to find it just too hard. I can't see how we'd ever have another dc, tho I never wanted an only. I'm feeling blue! Please help.

ilovetochat Fri 12-Sep-08 15:01:08

kids are hard work but as you say you love her and thats all that matters. My only advice is get out of the house as much as possible. My dd is 14 months and wakes in the night, i don't bf in the night though, i just cuddle her and put her back down, i think she just needs reassurance. I take her to mother and baby group, cradle club at the local library and bf support group which has been very helpful in the past, she enjoys getting out socialising and it stops me going insane. I also don't want an only child but know at the moment i couldn't cope with 2, maybe it will change as they get older. Just wanted you to know you are not alone. smile

mabanana Fri 12-Sep-08 15:08:13

Sleep sounds a nightmare - I know how hard it is not to get enough sleep - but it will get better. You are already making changes successfully. If she goes to sleep when you feed her, I'd feed her at this age. If you feed her does she go back to sleep without crying? Is this a new development? It could be teeth, so try a bit of Calpol before she goes to sleep, or it could be developmental. Nine months is a classic time for separation anxiety, for realising that she isn't mummy and mummy isn't her. she might also be learning to sit or something.
Re eating. Just don't stress. For babies under one food isn't the priority. It really doesn't matter. Make it fun and if she doesn't eat much, don't worry. It's really, really not worth getting you both so stressed. If all she'll eat is a banana and a biscuit, give her a banana and a biscuit. You can try just letting her play with food and feed herself. Put some stuff on her high chair or on the table like fingers of cheese on toast or just buttered toast or bits of cheese, raisins and cucumber and let her feed herself what she fancies. If she prefers to eat when she's in the pushchair, let her do that.
I think the thing with your dh working at home and wanting quiet is just too much though. What I would strongly recommend is that he wears earplugs/headphones if he wants quiet or just plugs himself into his iPod. You cannot expect a nine month old baby to keep quiet in the house or you for that matter! Babies are noisy. If he needs to make a phone call, he can go into the garden or into an upstairs bedroom (if you have one). Tiptoeing aroudn your own house and panicking if the baby cries is going to drive you absolutely mad. Too stressful.
re time for the two of you -does your baby sleep in her pushchair in the evening? If so go out for a walk in the evening together (if it isnt' raining grin) and walk and talk, and finish at the pub for a drink together while your baby (crossed fingers!) sleeps. Or go out in the car to a cheap restaurant and have her in her car seat.
Also think about getting a babysitter. I nkow it's expensive, but worthwhile. Ask all your friends who they use or use an agency like Sitters, then dress up for a night out! Good luck!

WilfSell Fri 12-Sep-08 15:08:48

It IS hard, especially when you're getting no sleep. Sorry to hear you're feeling rough. OK, let's deal with things in turn.

Feeling low: it is really common for hormones to change even well after the birth, I think weaning times are particularly common. Can you keep an eye on your mood somehow and see if get worse/better?

Sleep: not any surefire advice on this one - my kids have all been broken sleepers. It does get better and you can find advice in books and on here - and don't let go of the fact that you've had some success with bedtimes, you can also gradually change things at night. Are you sure the sleep is a general pattern? We have a tendency to blend everything into one, he (DS3) has a teething or ill phase and we remember it always being like that; then he goes back to how it was when it wasn't sore, and we go 'oh yeah, it wasn't always so bad...'

Also have you tried giving Calpol to see if it is teething pain? Have you tried upping the breastfeeds in the evening? Weaning is a common time to increase BF - guess they maybe find change a bit insecure and your supply might have dropped a bit too. Try two or three feeds before 9pm and if appropriate a dreamfeed at 11 and see if that helps? Or a cup of milk or bowl of porridge at bedtime also? This got DS3 through till 11 feed some nights.

Food. Can you tell us a bit more about the crying through meals and not eating very much, taking forever to eat...? Sounds like this is harder for you all than it needs to be.

You and the DH: could he work somewhere else while the baby is so all over the place? Borrow an office? Go to the local library?

And can you come up with a plan to give first you, then both of you a break? Could he take the baby out in the pram in his lunchhour and you have a lie down? You need to find a trusted babysitter I think. someone recommended a great website on MN the other day - think it was called Failing that, try your local nursery - ask the manager if you can put a sign up to see if any of the nursery nurses want a bit of extra money? Or your local nursery training college? Or ask neighbours - especially non-working older women - if they'd be interested every once in a while?

Aim for you and to have one evening out a month?

Alternatives might be find a gym or shopping centre that has a creche and you and he just spend an hour or two hanging out.

Good luck and please post again...

mabanana Fri 12-Sep-08 15:09:44

Oh and don't worry at all about no2 yet! It's very early days. One day she'll be sleeping all night and easy peasy and you'll think, 'hmm, this is too easy. Let's do it again!'. I've had terrible non-sleepers, but I promise you, the memory does fade grin

WilfSell Fri 12-Sep-08 15:09:44

Have you got a Children's/Surestart centre near you also? LOADS of good resources, classes, support, contacts there BTW...

mabanana Fri 12-Sep-08 15:11:08

Ooh, brilliant idea about getting your dh to take the baby out at lunchtime while you nap/read Heat/have a coffee, whatever it takes to get your energy back.

WilfSell Fri 12-Sep-08 15:17:53

The other thing I/we did - and I've had 3 non-sleeping babies - is to adjust my expectations. Lots of new parenthood is about doing this TBH.

Babies don't sleep because they need you sometimes. They want to be close to you and be reminded you're still there. Co-sleeping can often help them sleep better, but it might not help you. If you can sleep with a wriggly, BFing baby in the bed, good luck - I've always found it quite difficult though mostly do take DS3 into bed when he wakes at 1am.

And I (since DS2) told myself that if I get two good 3 hour stretches of sleep in 24 hours, I can cope on that. TBH with a baby I think 6 hours is a reasonable expectation, (12-6 unbroken is my goal at the mo) and since we sleep in 1.5 hour cycles, 2x3hrs means I'm getting 4 sleep cycles! Healthy enough and I can just about cope on that. DH and I juggle things so that I get up in the night but he gets up early with the kids and I get an extra bit of lie in (till 7.30)

But I now just accept the wakings these days. Perhaps it is because I'm older (41) and really conscious after 3 kids how quickly this phase passes and then they no longer need you so much - and that is MUCH harder once you're over the crushing agony of new parenthood...

juuule Fri 12-Sep-08 15:20:45

Wilfsell -"is to adjust my expectations"

Totally agree with that comment. Life got a lot easier for us when that penny finally dropped and we took things as they came rather than expecting things to happen a certain way.

EffiePerine Fri 12-Sep-08 15:39:25

I can understand the stress of hacing your DH work from home - DH does and we're in a tiny flat, so on top of eah other all the time! I went back to work p/t at 6 mo, so I got some time out that way (though added stresses of course). I found the first year or so really hard (DS didn't sleep either) and if anyone had suggested another baby when he was 9 mo I would have slapped them! He was much better the second year and is now nearly 2, sleeping through most nights and I am 6 mo pg with no. 2.

Things that helped: getting out of the house every day,if only to the park for a walk (DS napped much better in the buggy, still does). Meeting other people, either mother and baby groups or friends for coffee. Grabbing sleep when I could (I still nap with DS in our bed if I'm at home during the day which helps with pg tiredness!). Also, the advantage to DH being at home was that he was involved in the childcare right from the start and still looks after DS one day a week. Can he adjust his workign hours/days to look after your baby say one afternoon a week so you can have a break?

I think people forget that babies are hard work and they don't stop being hard work once they get past the newborn stage. If anything, once you have to start cooking and all that malarkey it gets harder! Be kind to yourself and get all the help you can

Minicooper Fri 12-Sep-08 17:15:52

Aw, thanks ladies, you've brought a tear to my eye with all your kind comments! I do think that part of the problem is that without family around to keep things in perspective my idea of what a baby 'should' do comes from books and health visitors! I do get stressed that she shouldn't be feeding in the night now, should be going to sleep by herself, should be sleeping in her cot raher than her pram etc rather than enjoying her.

Lots of good advice here - I do get out every day - except today, but had one friend round this am and another this pm! I think the work situation does need to change, but great suggestion about dh taking dd out Wilfsell.

Mabanana and Effie, good to hear that the dark days fade and the idea of no 2 can seem less impossible. Thanks for all your kindness - will print this off and try some of the suggestions.

Out of interest, has anyine used Sitters or other babysitting agencies? Its tough to leave dd with a stranger.

Any more suggestions welcome!

Thanks again.

mabanana Fri 12-Sep-08 18:50:05

I'm really pleased you sound more cheerful Mini. Ignore the books and health visitor! Babies have no idea what they 'should' do, and have a totally different agenda to the average HV. Remember, food is for fun until they are one. And chat to your dh about all the pussyfooting around. My dh works from home sometimes and wears headphones and I never keep the noise down for him. If he has an important phone call he just shuts the door, and if you can still hear the kids, he tells them he's working from home. Nobody minds at all. Have you got the Calpol ready? Really worth a try. Good luck!

Sunshinetoast Fri 12-Sep-08 19:02:17

Hi Minicooper
I used to find a baby sitter. I advertised in the nannies section and got loads of replies from qualified nannies who wanted a bit of extra work in the evenings. I took up loads of references and met potential baby sitters at least twice. It's expensive, but completely worth it to get out together a couple of times a month.

Other thing is neighbours with sensible teenagers

yummymummy1405 Fri 12-Sep-08 19:22:40

you sound like you are doing a wonderful job. every baby has something they object to whether its sleep eating,sitting in the car etc it is hard and knackering just try and step back from it and count to ten.

bumbling Fri 12-Sep-08 19:34:23

Loud bells ringing here, no support family or other and it was really really tough. It's taken me ages to even consider no 2 and DS is now 3.4! Best advice for me from above is to go with the flow as much as poss and throw all other advice etc out the window. I ended up co-sleeping and BF-ing in bed just to get some wrest, nothing ideological about it at all. We also took until DS was 3 to babysit. Oooops. Big mistake. Advce about nannies etc is good, ask other mums or use local newsletters etc. In big cities, londonn for eg there are nanny specific newsletters which might help. If you can get your DP to take responsibility for a day/day part once a week so you can plan what you'll do and have some guaranteed time off. We didn't big mistake. I'm a control freak and didn't really let him and he didn't trust himself. As a reuslt I ended up being resentfl and he felt useless. If you agree day x for 3 hours EVERY week he has to learn to cope on his own and you get enough time to sleep, shop get your hair cut, go into a shop WITHOUT a buggy ... He gets to feel like a proper dad and het gets proper relationship with your child.

Good luck and stick in there. It does get better.

wobbegong Fri 12-Sep-08 19:50:00

Hello Minicooper. I can empathise as I have one DD who is the same age and no interested family.

One thing which is really working for us is to ask one of your friends with a baby similar age if they would like to swap occasional babysitting. It is so much easier when no money changes hands, and they'll know your DD (at least a bit) and you're not leaving them with strangers. (I share your concern). You only have to go out very locally so you can dash home if need be. I feel like a completely new woman if I just get out in the evening even once a month. Plus I get Saturday afternoons off- DH always looks after DD. I don't always cash it in, but it makes me feel great knowing that I can get that three hours a week to myself.

Hope you feel better soon, and that you get some expert advice on the sleeping probs.

Tapster Fri 12-Sep-08 22:19:52

You sound like me when my DD was 9 months old, same gradual retreat, BFing and not eating solids plus very little family help except a MIL who wanted me to give formula all the time and strongly disapproved of BFing.

I say that times were tough in this household until my DD was about 13 months old, probably when she actually started to show some interest in solids. Not eating solids does get you down. Why is your DD crying at meal times? They really can survive on breast milk alone until they are one year old despite all the HV/nutritionist advice. I wish I had followed this advice, but I would just cut solids out for a week or two and then gradually re-introduce them. I would get a LLL book entitled "my child won't eat", think I got it via amazon, it is very reassuring.

HV IME are very knowledgeable about solids and FF babies but not used to BF babies over 6 months and do everything to discourage you to continue. Nutrionist at the hospital said that a child only needs to eat solids equivalent to the size of two of their fists so it is a very small amount.

I still BF my 22 month old once a day before bedtime, I'm 3.5 months pregnant with no.2 and I am enjoying my daughter now. It will get better hang on in there.

cookiemonstress Sat 13-Sep-08 09:36:33

Nothing new to add except to echo ..
1) really don't worry about food. Dd1 fussiest eater in the west. took no interest in anything but petit filou until she was at least 16 months. Now has appetite of horse and eats most things (except donuts wierdly!)
2) managing expectations helps. I was def of opinion that NOTHING would change when dd1 came along, she would fit in and eveything would be hunky dory with a baby to add. How wrong I was. It's a massive adjustment and I think it's taken me a good few years to get my head around that properly.
3) It's hard because it's relentless, constant and you can't ring in sick on a bad day. If you feel uncomfortable with strangers, suggest a babysitting circle with baby friends or ask friends. a friend of mine used to take it in turns with 2 of her friends every friday afternoon to look after each other's children. 2 of the mums would look after the 3 babies and 1 mum every 3 weeks got the afternoon off!

It does get better but I don't want to say that one day you'll wake up and everything is fixed. It's very incremental and very much a dance of 2 steps forward, 1 back but if you get some time to re-energise, it's do-able.

Good luck and hang in there..

Janey68 Sat 13-Sep-08 11:16:17

You have been given some great advice here. It IS very tough with first baby, everyone is just feeling their way really, so don't think anyone else has is sussed! I had a crier with my dc2 and it's depressing. The one thing that made a difference is that I stopped the bf back to sleep as I was exhausted. If she woke during the night, I would go in to her, settle her back down briefly and firmly but def no bf - I was getting exhausted and babies this age don't need a night feed - it's just become a habit in her settling back down and you need to replace it with a different routine so she doesnt always associate sleep with bf. This worked well for me - my baby went from frequent wake ups and feeds to maybe waking just the once and settling and sleeping much better.
You also need to get a babysitter and get some time with your husband! Of course it is hard first time to leave your baby because it's something different, but beleive me, once you are out and enjoying yourself you'll wonder why you didnt do it sooner!

bumbling Sun 14-Sep-08 07:56:34

Cookiemonstress - I really like that shared three people baby sitting ring thing. What a great idea. Wish I'd thought of that. Have to admit we've finally got round to babysitting recently and used a mother of another child very similar in age. It is very reassuring because your child is familiar with them if you see them regularly and you know that they're absolutley in tune with what that age child is doing and needs etc. Wish I'd done it yonks ago. Maybe when/if we manage another one!

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