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I am really struggling

(42 Posts)
KaluzaKlein1 Thu 10-Dec-15 01:21:54

With life at the moment.

I'm an expat living in a European country. I just had a baby. I'm really struggling with everything right now.

There's still a substantial language barrier for me. I'm trying but realistically this is going to be there for a while.
My baby won't latch properly - feeding is so painful. I've seen umpteen experts and none of them can figure out why. He sleeps poorly and I'm really tired. Tonight he's on the breast wriggling biting and pulling my hair and it's making my skin crawl with repulsion.
I don't really know anyone here. I'm not terribly sociable (the idea of mum and baby groups fills me with dread) and I'm not having any luck meeting people. Lots of mums where I live but my efforts to say hello are met with cool rebuffs. It is just not done here to strike up conversations.

There's very little public transport where we live and that there is is not accessible with a pram. I'm trying to get ds to use a sling but so far he hates it. I'll keep trying of course but right now it takes hours to get anywhere.

So I feel a bit low really. Tried joining expat mum groups but nothing has come of that. Not a single friend from the uk has kept in touch. It's like I've disappeared from existence. I'm worn down with tiredness and I want a break. I fantasise about getting injured so I can have some rest (I wouldn't do this.) I see the rest of my life stretching out in a country where I'll always be an outsider and it fills me with despair.

I mentioned I felt low to the doc on our last check up but they were pretty dismissive and told me to go out to baby groups (yuck, I don't want to and I can't get to them!)

Not sure what I'm asking really. Self pitying rant over sad

Kazzawazzawo0 Thu 10-Dec-15 02:22:26

Sorry you're having a tough time. How old is your baby? Are the health visitors weighing him to make sure he's drinking enough?

If you don't mind me asking, where do you live? I used to live in Germany and found it difficult to make friends too.

I'm not an expert on breastfeeding, my children are much older, hopefully someone else will be along with advice soon. I just wanted to say hi and not read and run.

It's hard with newborn babies, but it does get easier.

KaluzaKlein1 Thu 10-Dec-15 02:49:57

Oh he's fine - absolutely dead on average for weight gain and growth., he's nine weeks.

KaluzaKlein1 Thu 10-Dec-15 08:10:53

No one?

IamlovedbyG Thu 10-Dec-15 08:20:19

Message deleted by MNHQ. Here's a link to our Talk Guidelines.

ILiveAtTheBeach Thu 10-Dec-15 08:22:00

Oh, I feel your pain! My son was exactly the same. He wanted feeding every hour (night and day) and he would feed for ages and chew my nipples. It was hellish. I was so tired, like nothing I've known before. No-one prepares you for it! If he's 9 weeks, maybe think about introducing a bottle. You've done your bit.

As he gets older, life will become sooo much easier. You are doing the hardest bit right now. Honestly with every day it gets better. One year from now, you'll be in a much easier place. Just deep breath. Ride it out. My son is my best friend now, altho I'm sure I'm not his, ha ha (he's 18) and I actually cannot believe what we went thru in those early days! I shudder!

Good luck! flowers

ravenmum Thu 10-Dec-15 08:28:21

It can be hard for foreigners to make friends in Germany as relationships depend a lot more on each person being proactive and outgoing - there's none of that "helping the poor newcomer" thing you get in the UK/USA. Suits Germans, as they don't expect anything else (so don't feel left out) and have learned to take the initiative from growing up like that, but it's harder when you come from a place where a group of people are expected to gently welcome in an outsider.

With doctors it's exactly the same: you have to tell them very clearly what you want and what your problem is, none of that "a bit down" when you feel awful. Get a German speaker to write a note if necessary...

Keep it up with the expat groups; people frequently come and go, so leaving it a few weeks and trying again can give you very different results. When my two were small I started up an English playgroup of my own, in my flat, advertising in the paper as the Internet wasn't up to much then :-) That worked out well for me, but it took a bit of effort!

Because of the straight-talking approach here it can make you feel a bit stupid compared to all the apparent experts around you. But you are the mum and if you are not happy breastfeeding there are alternatives! Give them the Paddington hard stare if they offer unwanted advice.

Think again about the baby groups. You don't have to be sociable - take a book and sit in the corner while your son gets his dose of sociability. Hopefully he'll be knackered at the end of the day and sleep better.

cupcakesandwine Thu 10-Dec-15 08:32:03

Nipple shields! Don't know which country you are in but they must exist. My middle child was like this and after having had no problems BF my first, I was really taken aback. I remember one awful night where we both ended up in tears of frustration. The midwife came round the next morning after my desperate phone call and bless her went to Boots and bought some nipple shields. My DD loved feeding through them straight away as I think it just gave her more to hang on to and of course it protects you too. We never did abandon them - I tried and she was having none of it. The next child would have nothing to do with feeding though a nipple shield. They are all individuals and you just have to get though the best way you can. There's no right way so don't let anyone tell you there is. There is only what's right for you.

If that doesn't work, then a combination of mixed feeding with formula, bottle and expressing is probably the way to go. It's really important to look after you first. Sounds counter-intuitive when you have a small helpless baby, but if you get worn down, the whole thing falls apart.

TendonQueen Thu 10-Dec-15 08:37:02

Are you tied to where you are now, or could you move to a city with better public transport?

KaluzaKlein1 Thu 10-Dec-15 08:46:12

I can't get nipple shields to work ... Even the smallest are still huge and he just chokes or chews on them. No milk seems to come out. I've tried expressing a bit of milk into the shield before putting it on but he doesn't get the memo.

I do express when i can for a break but I never get that much out (80 ml max) and ds feeds all the time. He was up all night again and he barely naps in the day. It's exhausting.
I know it'll pass and it's not for long- everything is a phase for kids.... but I don't think I'll ever be accepted here (I'm not in Germany) And I feel so isolated. It's like I don't exist, I'm just a vessel for making sure the kid is ok. As long as he's growing there's no need to help me with issues of breastfeeding or feeling bad sad I have asked explicitly for what I need and I get a blank look and an 'ahah' and the conversation moves on. It's like I'm not there.

I've lived abroad in other countries before and loved it but I can see my life stretching before me here and I don't like the look of it.

We are isolated geographically too. One bus an hour, one a day (and you never know which one) you can get a buggy on. I don't really like the thought of mum and baby groups (everyone just ignored me in antenatal classes) but I couldn't get to them anyway.

My poor ds deserves a better mum

KaluzaKlein1 Thu 10-Dec-15 08:54:58

We are tied to where we are.

ravenmum Thu 10-Dec-15 09:02:50

As long as you are trying to do what's best for your son, you are an excellent mum.

I could never do the nipple shields either, didn't get how they worked at all! Like cupcakes said, every child is different: I bottle-fed my first-born but my second-born just latched on the first time as if to say "You may not know how to do this, but I do!"

I hated it too when the kids were small and absolutely dreaded staying here forever. Now I'm very happy with it, but I'm sorry I didn't enjoy it more then. I think I may have been a bit hard on myself, expecting myself to fit in with the locals, learn the language faster - I didn't really allow myself much contact with expats or holidays in the UK as it felt like cheating, and asking too much of my German husband. I felt like it was my fault I couldn't fit in better, when actually it simply is really, really hard to fit in.

Not much helpful advice then, as I'm basically saying "yes, it's awful!" Do you have an Internet radio and access to UK TV (e.g. filmon) to give you some short-term relief? Could you get an umbrella buggy (the sort where they can lie flat)? And agree with TendonQueen that living in a less cut-off area is a big help.

ravenmum Thu 10-Dec-15 09:04:17

(Cross-posted - but are you really, really "tied" even at the cost of your mental health?)

KaluzaKlein1 Thu 10-Dec-15 09:09:51

Yes we are. Complex situation involving land and us building our own place

KaluzaKlein1 Thu 10-Dec-15 12:49:29

I feel like I'm asking for help and no one at the doctors is listening.

At the doctors for example I said 'I've got nipple thrush, look - itches like mad, I need flucanozole and gel for ds's mouth.'

In return I got some vague umms and ahhhs and told to go and buy sodding daktacort :/

I repeated myself several times - what about the infection in the breast? How to stop ds reinfect ing me? ... Hydrocortisone near baby's eyes? Again, umms, ahhhs and totally ignored... Then moving onto weighing him. It's like I wasn't there. It was surreal.

I absolutely despair. There is no point in my existence. It's like I don't exist

hefzi Thu 10-Dec-15 13:03:40

I don't have much to offer, but could you perhaps ask DH to go to the doctors with you? Could it be a language barrier that's causing the problems?

I seem to think you've posted before, and that you're in Scandinavia? If you're the person I think, I am afraid that the country where you are is bit notorious about people "needing" to speak the local language, although people's English tends to be good - I have a friend who was verbally attacked when taking her to playgroup: but at last the mum looked like a bit of an idiot when it was pointed out to her that my friend doesn't actually live there and was only visiting family - until she went into a major huff about people not bothering to learn etc (If not, ignore that bit!)

I know it's wretched when you're stuck on your own and struggling: could there be a chance you are also developing PND, or do you think it's really just that your situation is making you miserable? Is there any way at all you could get a second hand car, and at least have more options open to you? That way, you could give various groups a go, and not have the stress of wrapping up and being at the bus stop etc

Also - is there a local church in your community? They often have sessions run in them - not church stuff, but mother and toddler/baby music/flower arranging - so at least you could get out and meet other people, even if it's grim, close to home.

hefzi Thu 10-Dec-15 13:06:36

Also- are you IL near to where you are? Can you ask them for help/advice? Does your DH have brothers/sisters etc who might be able to give you some ideas or help you settle in/introduce you to people etc?

I know it's very isolating being in a rural community with restricted transport options, so just trying to think of things that might work. Also - have you contacted your old friends in the UK? You say no-one's kept in touch - how about using the birth of the baby to re-establish contact through email etc? Or have you already tried that?

April2013 Thu 10-Dec-15 13:14:26

Perhaps you need to try different doctors, I found them massively variable when my son was small - from awful and made me feel crap to wonderful. Perhaps try ringing Bf\baby helplines in the UK - NCT helpline I found very good and kind, helpful, maybe they will help you deal with the doctors. Also perhaps invest in a baby carrier, then you can go for some walks, maybe brave the public transport later on. I would recommend going to baby groups even though you hate the idea, I never loved them either but they do break up the day and give you a reason to get out of the house, it gets easier to attempt trips out as they get older, you might find you meet some nice people eventually but even if not it is good to just be around people and other babies, I think baby groups have the potential to be lovely but a lot of the time they are fairly awkward (for me anyway), but worth going for the chance of having a nice time potentially. I have a dog and dog walks plus baby in carrier became the highlight of my day, always such a relief to be outside and you don't need a dog to go for a walk. Hope things get easier soon.

KaluzaKlein1 Thu 10-Dec-15 13:25:33

Hi hefzi

In laws are several hundred miles away - almost as far as my family really , it's a seven hour drive. They are nice but I don't know them that well. I wouldn't feel comfortable confiding. No family nearby sad

No church... Nearest city is about 20km away. I did bite the bullet and go to a mum and baby group in town but it was a miserable experience- no one spoke to me and it knocked me really hard. I don't want to do that again.

I'm usually a very self contained person. I don't need, or seek out company so I'm mystified as to why I feel so bad. Friends from back home of course reply once if I Contact them but it's very cursory and no one has started any contact. It's like Im a ghost and it's made me question the 'friendships' I had. I was obviously of no real importance to anyone then and I'm not now.

April2013 Thu 10-Dec-15 13:33:55

Also, I justified going to baby groups as being for the benefit of my baby rather than me once I realised people were not really up for making friends, it became a lot easier then to keep going regularly, less pressure for me to have a wonderful time and just have an ok time instead. Are there a few on offer? Try them all if so as you will probably find you like some more than others. Would you have to make it a full day out to go to one? I know it is very tricky managing BF and nappy changing etc on a bus and away from home - is there a shopping centre with baby changing \bf room you could use? You might find these things fall into place as they get older and for now you could just get some good TV, nice food in, maybe try some walks. I watched a lot of good tv when my sob was small. I found a carrier made me feel a lot better than with a buggy for many reasons, but I know it is tricky this time of year if it is icy underfoot. My baby was born in November and I alternated buggy when it was icy and carrier when it wasn't.

KaluzaKlein1 Thu 10-Dec-15 13:44:43

Yeah, a carrier in the dark and cold is tough. It's dark here now at 14:30 and cold. I also worry about slipping and falling. Don't forget the winters here are hard - it's not uncommon for it to be -25 and only a few hours of daylight a day.
Getting into the city is a full day mission. It's exhausting. I was so upset by the baby group I am just not doing that again. What's the point when No one speaks to me and I don't understand any of the cultural references to childhood stuff/songs etc? Ds is way too young to get anything out of them anyway.
I know I'm being negative and I should just pull my socks up and get on with it, but the thought of living like this for the next few decades is pretty grim.

DonkeysDontRideBicycles Thu 10-Dec-15 13:55:11

My poor ds deserves a better mum
Not from what you've said. You are living in a new place and without a support network of family or friends. On top of everything you are coping on less sleep than ever.

It sounds very hard if people don't strike up conversation or open up. I admire you for trying, but you can't exactly force strangers to become friends. You're far from the only person not to fancy mother + baby groups but needs must, in these circumstances it's probably your best bet. You don't say much about your partner but is he pulling his weight or just blithely expecting you to muddle on? I know you don't have in-laws on your doorstep but I think it's time that part of the family stepped up. If not to host you and your baby then at least to look into services local to you on your behalf.

Your DS is putting on weight and none of the health professionals say he's neglected. Of course your needs should still be taken into account. Bluntly, he depends on you so you have to keep healthy.

I know you probably prefer to be discreet but even if you ask MNHQ to delete the specifics soon after posting can you tell us where you are, it's possible there's a MNer at least in the same country who can offer ideas?

April2013 Thu 10-Dec-15 14:03:48

I so know that feeling of being at a baby group and no one talks to you - it seems the norm often, but if you try a different one, maybe try just asking what their baby is called, how old etc you might find it gets easier. Once I realised it was like that I found it easier to deal with, initially I was disappointed that people seemed not interested. But sometimes people in the same boat as you turn up at these things - occasionally I ended up speaking to some very nice women, often different people go each week. On the old friends front, I feel your pain, it is very upsetting, but it seems very common unfortunately, try not go beat yourself up about it, I know it is hard sad

ravenmum Thu 10-Dec-15 14:16:17

I had a similar experience with baby groups here, the woman running it would say "we all know the words to this song" and everyone else started singing while I sat looking stupid. In the end I bought a CD of children's songs with the words and learned some off by heart ... though I had no idea which were popular. I was obviously foreign but that woman said the same thing every week!

However small your son is, he is getting out of the house, getting used to having other people around, hearing music, etc. And so are you.

If you don't feel up to even that, you need to mention that to your doctor ... say that you don't even have the strength to go out. You could well have some depression. Regular walks in the daylight and using a bright sunlight lamp might help you feel a little less miserable and possibly help your son's sleep rhythm if you are lucky.

KaluzaKlein1 Thu 10-Dec-15 14:36:16

I certainly have depression. I mentioned it to the doc a couple of weeks back but again just got the blank look and it was like he hadn't acknowledged what I was saying.

Dh pulls his weight. It's just me not coping very well.

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