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advice needed - is this normal?(16 Posts)
Ok, will try to keep this brief:
Lovely husband and I had first baby a few months ago. We both wanted kids, although it happened a bit sooner than we'd planned so was a bit of a surprise for us both. I got really bad PND, now much better and totally in love with baby, generally pretty happy. DH coped much better than me at the start but now, nearly 6 months on, he admits he still hasn't really "warmed" to baby, finds him quite boring, very frustrated by crying and the changes to our lifestyle, etc. Basically seems a bit depressed. He tries hard to be involved - gets up early to change him etc before work, puts him to bed, carries him in sling at weekend, etc, so it's not that he's being an arsehole - he reallly WANTS to enjoy our son but just doesn't seem to be bonding much. This is starting to put a strain on our relationship as well, even though we've always been incredibly close. We're both getting quite down about it. (
I know that it's supposed to be normal for dads to take longer to bond, etc, so I keep telling myself it's going to be ok. But is this normal really? Am I just kidding myself and in fact he's never going to get into being a dad? Is there anything we can do to help things along?
I think it is true that men can get a from of male PND too. The changes to your life are massive and can take quite a lot to come to terms with for both of you. It sounds like he trying and not just leaving it all to you.
It is also quite normal for some dads to be less interactive with the baby until they start crawling and talking, because up until then they can feel a bit left out of the bonding process, especially if he is at work all day, and you are the one who baby is more content with, because they are more used to you.
It is normal, and it will get better.
I think it's normal. Becoming a parent is a big life-change. Fathers may not get the hormone problems that pregnancy can present but they can find new babies a challenge/boring/frustrating/tiring, just the same as mothers can. I think, if he's admitted that he's finding it tough but trying his best, that's positive. There will come a moment, I predict, when something will click and he'll realise that he has bonded after all. Might take a crisis of some kind like an illness or a forced absence, but there will be a moment. Reassure him that he's a good father in the meantime and try not to let anything damage your relationship.
I think it really is quite normal and its grea that he WANTS to enjoy your DS. My DHstruggled with both of ours until they were that bit older, and were able to communicate and interact more. It was a slow pocess but the making of his relationship with DC1 was when we had DC2. He left me to do all the baby stuff and really bonded with DC1. They now have the most amazing bond and so much in common. DH has never been a 'kiddy' person but has still managed to build relationships with both children.
Did you / are you BF ing? I did and it definately didn't help but I'm glad I did it. I also clung on too tightly to my DC's as babies and probably didn't leave much room for DH. Might not be the same for you but it seems to be quite common amongst my friends. I'm sure that things will get better for you all
From a man's perspective (or from a woman's perspective for that matter) I think it's perfectly normal to find lack of sleep, constant crying, fatigue etc very frustrating. But I don't understand the comment that he hasn't "warmed" to the baby, as if a baby is like some new wallpaper that didn't turn out to be quite what he expected. It suggests a level of emotional immaturity and adds to your problems (i.e. not only is baby difficult but now you have to worry about your husband).
I can't tell from your email whether this is being driven by the issues I mentioned (lack of sleep etc). If so, then at 6 months you should both be working on a routine that has baby sleeping at the right times and in bed at 7/7.30 so that both of you can have some time as a couple - like I said, no idea if that is happening or not but it needs to be. If the routine is fine but he just misses lads' nights out in the pub, then it may just be that he is a dick.
I think this sounds normal really. Personally I find/found the first year an absolute slog through no sleep and screaming and not a whole lot of response from baby. It started to change from 9months and as soon as my DC was walking (12months) and sleeping (14months) it was a huge change and the toddler years are still hard work but a lot more fun for both me and DH.
I always thought I wasn't much of a baby person and I think some people just aren't I imagine your DH will really grow into being dad once it's less dominated by baby maintenance and more fun/interaction. As it stands it sounds like he is doing all the right things by putting the effort in, keeping involved and close to baby and telling you how he feels and some time soon I imagine he'll find it a whole lot more rewarding!
Not all of us 'warmed' to our children the second we met them and I think accusing anyone of being emotionally immature as a result is rather offensive as well as ridiculous. Small babies test everyone's patience in the early days and they all take some getting to know. When a man like the OP's DH is anxious to be a good dad and worried that he's not feeling the right things, that is not the sign of a 'dick'
Do you have anyone eg family who could mind the baby for an afternoon/evening to give you two a chance to go out for dinner/cinema/shopping?
It sounds completely normal and atleast he is doing his part. Keep talking and dont be afraid to admit to feelings. Having a baby is a huge life change.
Thanks everybody, that's good to hear! Several friends have told me that Dads find the first 9 months to one year really tough, so I was kind of expecting this, but it's good to have it reconfirmed. I know I'd still be finding things really tough if I didn't have the hormones helping me bond - I just wish there was a way to help DH to feel the love so that the downsides of new parenthood get put more in perspective!
My DH found it hard to bond with DS1 at first. When DS1 was 5 1/2 months I went to visit my family and was away for about 5 weeks (not due to any problems with DH, just to show DS1 off to the family ). It was at that point that DH realised just how much he loved and missed DS1. Not having him there at all really hit him, and it hurt him. When we got back I could see the difference, he was more natural with DS1 and enjoyed interacting with him so much more.
Bonding is a complex thing, I don't think I bonded with my first til about 3 months in and I was the one breastfeeding and so on, I also felt my life had changed for the worse and cried (a lot). I don't think I had PND, jsut that the enormity of being a parent was very great and a real shock for me.
I would remind him that you are in for the long haul. Many people have a 'preferred' age, one they love their kids at, and also have times, even months or a year or two where their love for their children is more challenged (you might not even like them much, even if you love them). He might love it when they are toddlers and hang on Daddy's every word (mine did), he might like it when they are older 8/9 and can do activities with him. There's many opportunities to be a good parent, and his turn will come.
And the downsides of parenting are very real, basically research shows that having children doesn't make you happier! It is stressful and exhausting too, and it's best to come together to discuss that rather than to make him feel bad that he's noticed.
I would leave him alone with you DC to start to do sole care every now and again, not at difficult times like night-time, but he could go the park, take your DC to see his friends, sit in the pub garden with the baby or whatever makes him feel like being a normal person who also happens to have a baby. I found working great for this, but worried the bond would suffer, but it is there and he will find his own way through this to being a dad.
I think it is quite common. One positive though is that he felt able to talk to you about it, and I think it's really important to keep the communication open and feel able to discuss how you are feeling freely. So often resentment builds from lack of communication and understanding on both parts.
What until the first word is Dada, which it generally is. I found with my 3 that this was the time when their father's chest inflated with pride, he got more involved with them then and took some enjoyment in forming a bond.
I use to say, I know you prefer them when they're more interactive but you've got to bond. It didn't help. It all changed when baby said his name. He was so chuffed he said dada before trying to form any identifying word for me. It made him feel special.
Hang in there. It will change.
Don't know if this will help, but DH and I had a very similar experience to what girlgonemild describes.
I think it's often really hard to judge these things (as both parent and onlooker) because everyone has different ideas and expectations of how one 'should' feel as a new parent. Being 'bonded' with a baby may mean different things to different people. I would say the first 18 months with dd (to put it into perspective, I stayed at home with her for first 6 months then went back to work full time), were certainly not unalloyed joy. It's only really since she started stringing sentences together that I would say my time away from her is no longer tempered by an element of relief.
Anyway, there was definitely an element of 'fake it till you make it' for me, but DD is three now, and I definitely feel I've 'made it'.
As long as your DH is demonstrating love and doing all the right things, your DS will be getting what he needs, but I do agree with Mumsy that maybe some time alone for the two of them might help. DH and I have always shared childcare and the fact that we have our own individual special little 'things' with DD has always really helped us to bond with her individually.
Yeah, he's doing all the right things. A lot of people don't like babies much. They're not exactly great company <ducks> As long as he's aware your child is going to change from one month to the next, and keeps going with the basic bonding activities, I think it'll pan out fine while DS becomes more interactive, as it were.
thanks to everyone who replied. Just wanted to say that DH is now qute in love with our gorgeous baby. Since about 6 months (he's now 8 months) he's been getting more into him everyday - I even found him sitting by the cot just watching him sleep one morning! He says everyday he feels closer to him and loves him more, so if anyone is reading this because they're in the same situation, don't worry! It all works out - just takes a little time. Now we argue over who gets to hold him while we're out... ;)
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