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Struggling as new father

21 replies

Lukev21 · 27/08/2022 18:02

New dad here . All my life i have loved kids , always wanted them , always been maternal and playful with other peoples kids . Ive just had a little girl of my own and she is 17 days old . I was over joyed when she was born, i even cried tears in the delivery room. However now i feel the total opposite of how i expected i would feel. I was expecting the be extremely loving and patient and hands on , but instead ive just felt a serious bout of depression and regret , as horrible and painful as that is to say.
Im finding it all so hard :( , the sleepless nights , the screaming , the random bouts of crying and her only settling with her mother . I find myself losing my temper and feeling anger when she cries , and also feeling guilt that i dont want to hold my baby through fear of her crying and only my partner being able to make her stop. I know post natal depression can be a thing with fathers too but i just want to hear honest accounts from other dads so i dont feel like such a bad person. So far all ive had off other new dads is that their babies are angels and never cry and how easy it is etc where as i just feel sadness and resent towards it all . I know it will change when shes more attentive and we can play together and go on days out but right now i just feel hopeless

OP posts:
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Isgooglebroken · 27/08/2022 18:16

Congratulations on becoming a father! sorry to hear you are finding it a bit of a struggle. The early days are difficult sometimes and I think it’s especially difficult when others seem to be taking to parenthood like a duck to water. It will get easier.
there are links from p60 onwards for support & advice for dads, you may find more dads on other sites.
www.mentalhealth.org.uk/sites/default/files/2022-06/MHF-Becoming-Dad-A-guide-for-new-fathers.pdf

I’m not sure if MN allow links to other sites but they are included in the above link too.
www.dadsmatteruk.org/

www.thedadsnet.com/

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noclothesinbed · 27/08/2022 19:05

What is it about the crying you find so hard ? Try and zone out from it. She won't damage herself by crying some babies just cry because they are bored. Try and relax more. This stage passes quickly and then another phase begins but you need to calm down and try and enjoy it Take out for a walk in the pram and give her mum a break each day. The fresh air will tire her out and do you both good.

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Danikm151 · 27/08/2022 19:13

It’s good you can be honest about your feelings. A new baby can be overwhelming!

have you tried some skin to skin? Let baby fall asleep on you and just chill. It can be calming for both of you.
go for a walk with her. Maybe in a sling so she can be close to you.

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tattychicken · 27/08/2022 19:19

What you're feeling is pretty normal. Hang on in there, do as much with her as you can. Pop her in a sling and go out for walks, being close to you will comfort her.
Don't compare you and her and your partner to other people's Insta feeds. It's all bollocks.
I promise you it gets better. The first 6 weeks are tough though. ❤️

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Stichintimesavesstapling · 27/08/2022 19:32

Honestly the first 6 weeks is awful, you've basically got to care for a messy noisy potato, first six months is pretty awful and then it gets better and better. You mourn your past life, the hours of lounging you used to do, how easy everything was, eventually you get used to your new one. You probably are thinking your wife is 'a natural' but honestly she's just muddling through and trying her best because she has to, so you need to do the same and baby will then get used to your approach (which will be different and that's not a bad thing). My advice would be sling on, audiobook on, go for a walk whenever you can with baby - please do check the TICKS guidance for safe sling wearing. You adjust, get a tv in your room so you can sit in there from 7pm and either catch up on sleep or watch box sets together while soothing baby.

What you don't do now is say 'oh but baby settles for her' and check out.

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InvalidCrumb · 27/08/2022 19:49

Well done for opening up and posting. I won't lie, me and my DH found it immensely hard the first few months of being parents - a very much wanted baby, we were overjoyed but the lack of sleep and colic and breastfeeding almost got too much. I definitely felt 'I regret this'. I got really pissed off with everyone saying 'oh it will pass' - but it really does!

Get stuck in taking the baby out for little strolls in a sling, hold her around the house while your partner gets a break for a shower or cup of tea.

Colic is unexplained crying. We had it with our first and it was really awful, the screaming goes straight through you. It peaks around 6 weeks. People might tell you to try infacol, etc, worth giving it a try but to be honest didn't make much difference for us. Do you have family who can help you e.g. make some sandwiches for lunch or something?

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parkloaf · 27/08/2022 19:52

I've realised it's much more common than I thought - my marriage has just imploded due to the same issue although our twins are 1 now but he seems to have bottled it up and now just walked out

Please just talk to your wife or someone else about your feelings. Don't bottle it up like my STBEXH obviously has

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Rinatinabina · 27/08/2022 19:58

I’m a mum and the regret was there for a while and I definitely experienced anger and PND. DH was a much more natural parent than me and could rock her to sleep whereas she was a ball of fury for me. I found the sudden 24/7 responsibility and exhaustion utterly destroying. I felt utterly trapped. But it does get better, it’s just very very slow.

So first bit of advice is to get to a GP and get some help. The anger though, if you feel yourself getting really frustrated put baby in a cot and go take a minute. Many a mum has had to do that to get themselves together.

When she’s calm take some time to just look into her eyes and coo at her. Sounds stupid but babies don’t give much back so you need to try to foster a connection from your own side, worry more about what she thinks of you than what you think of her for a few minutes a day.

Keep up the physical contact, skin to skin is good, babies like being held even when they are really pissed off, soothing noises gentle bouncing, gentle strokes on the back. Doesn’t mean they will stop crying but they will learn that you are there with them while they need you. It’s important that you learn to tune that out a bit, sing a son in your head. Imagine retirement whatever you need to do to tone down the noise hitting your eardrums.

sometimes you can be doing everything right and they still cry, she’s not rejecting you, babies cry for myriad reasons. Check that she has a clean nappy, isn’t hungry and has been burped properly (youtube has good clips of baby burping advice and tummy massage for constipation etc). One trick my cleaner showed me was rocking the baby gently while humming whilst looking away from them or with your eyes closed. Dd found that quite calming

get her out for a walk, sling or pram is fine, but even if its a quick 20 minutes outside it’ll do everyone some good.

the first few weeks were the worst time of my life, I spent a lot of time sitting in the bathroom crying. Unfortunately I don’t think thats abnormal. Newborns can be hellish little creatures sent from satan to break us. You must must must remember the baby isn’t doing anything to you, she’s here because you chose for her to be, none of this is her fault.

I had to work at a bond I had assumed would just materialise in a shower of glitter. It didn’t happen but I can’t tell you how I felt fist time DD giggled, first time she came up to give me a kiss and how she now shouts “I LOVE YOU MA!”. It will get better but you have to stick with it and keep trying.

google 4th trimester to help you understand where she’s at right now with her development. Also look up wonder weeks and check out developmental charts. It helps put it in perspective. DH approached it like a military operation and I think that helped, he had spreadsheets. I thought they were bloody stupid at first but then I could see a pattern emerging on nap times etc so got better at putting her down for a nap etc and feeding her on time etc.

Also remember that you and your wife/girlf are on the same side, you are figuring this out together, neither of you got a manual with the baby. Mumsnet is a good resource for various “why is my baby broken” questions (DH used it a lot).


hang in there. The main thing that good dads do is hang in there and keep trying, doesn’t mean you get everything perfectly right every time but it means you plug away at it.

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Beamur · 27/08/2022 20:02

It is really hard with a newborn. Life as you knew it has vanished and been replaced with as someone has already said a noisy, demanding potato!
Even if your wife seems more adept at handling the potato, they both really need you right now. Dads are important too.
Support your wife and help out with the domestics. It's more important than ever.
It does get easier. There are support groups for men out there too - things like Andy's Man Club and various shed themed groups. Ask your Health Visitor if there's anything local but most of all, do stuff with your baby. Go for a walk, do the bath time - these are where you find your bond and your relationship over time.

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fatpengu1n · 27/08/2022 20:18

Hello, my potato is 6 weeks. As everyone here has said, newborns are tough as hell and the never ending responsibility of it all is enough to break even the toughest of us. I definitely spent the first 3 weeks crying and wishing I could go back and not have a baby - but 3 weeks later, we are starting to find a (sort of) rhythm. I still have days where I feel a bit down but it's less intense than those early days.
What I have found is that meeting up with other new parents has helped, did you go to any NCT type classes at all? I also tried to plan something nice to look forward to each week - even if it's a couple of hours on your own in town.
I feel it gets better in 2 week increments and also when you notice they start to do new things like have their eyes open for longer periods, look at you properly for the first time or stare at those black and white cards.
This iS a huge life change and what you're feeling is very normal, but please do chat to your gp if you feel you need some support.
The cloud lifts, slowly, but it lifts!

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moonseas · 27/08/2022 20:32

I’m a new mother (nearly 4 months old) - would it help to know I felt similar at the beginning?! 17 days old is sooo fresh out of the box new. I felt regret, terror, I wanted to hand her to my partner and leave! Not only is what you’re feeling ‘normal’, it’s not just a dad thing either - you’re feeling what millions of new parents feel, I promise.

She will 100% settle with you - it just takes time, and you will gain confidence. Try to find your own settling techniques. My partner sings his own special song to our baby, or strokes her nose, whereas I do different things - both types work! But your baby is so new, it’s about trying different methods and you’re figuring her out (she’s figuring you out too!).

I’m also guilty of feeling ‘Oh this will be better when she’s XX months old’ - but I heard some good advice early on that it’s no good wishing away the current time you’re in because it goes so fast and one day you’ll miss it. Granted the first few weeks are INSANE so that only applies when it gets good 😆

And our baby got easier week by week. Now, at nearly 4 months, she sleeps 8-9 hours in one stretch most nights (she’s exclusively breast fed btw), she can drift off to sleep in her cot herself, and she’s the loveliest, smiliest, happiest baby - I wouldn’t swap her at all!

When I had those first initial feelings of terror, I confided in my partner who simply said: ‘Well we’ve got her now - there’s nothing we can do but get on with it!’. And he was absolutely right.

The only point I think you need to address is feeling angry when she cries. Again, so common for all of us at times, but just try to remember that’s the only way your baby can communicate right now. It will soon change to squeals, shrieks, shouts, giggles, smiles… and you’ll become a dab hand at understanding what the different cries mean too. Within a few weeks my partner and I laughed when we realised she was screaming during a nappy change but we’d got so used to it we just kept chatting over the top!

I promise it’ll get better - and I’m still a brand new parent myself! The ones with actual small humans would have even more insight to hopefully make you feel better 👍

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EllieRosesMammy · 27/08/2022 20:39

Hey dude another dad here, I'm replying from my partners acc. I felt the same way at around the 18 day mark your whole life has just changed massively and this is a normal thing for a lot of dads, men can suffer from post natial depression (a lot more than you would think all the focus is on the mum and her wellbeing all the way thru the pregnancy and labour and the dads kinda get forgotten) make sure you are trying to get enough sleep/vitamins/daylight/water and go see the doctors and have a chat with them or even a friend who has had a child and just ask them how they felt or join the reddit group r/dad's and start a thread on there they helped me a lot. It will get easier I promise you are luring a whole new set of skills and you are smashing it man you got this shit!!!!

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ml3jp · 27/08/2022 20:39

I feel for you! It can be awful. I didn’t have PND but also hated the early days. They’re relentless and your feel like life is over! It gets so much easier. Google the tiger in the tree hold. That might settle baby! And another vote for the sling. Don’t be disheartened it they cry initially. Walk a few minutes and 9/10 they’ll be lights out. Stay strong x

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Ihaveoflate · 27/08/2022 20:49

It's very brave of you to admit these feelings to yourself. Have you been honest with your partner?

My husband struggled in the ways you describe but wasn't very honest about it, to himself or me. The result was he retreated and I felt abandoned at the time I needed him most (traumatic birth, severe PND/A). We've talked about it since but it's had a lasting effect on our relationship.

Remember you're a team. Keep communicating and try to face things together. And it does get better - the first couple of months are brutal.

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PurplePansy05 · 27/08/2022 20:56

OP, it might sound stupid but remember this screaming little thing is a human being, not some kind of an alien purposefully making your life hellish at the moment. I remember when DS arrived, my husband didn't perveive him as a human being, he didn't quite understand his attempts at communication and his cues. I did, but gosh it too some work and it was hard and exhausting.

One thing I would have done differently is trying to understand the wake windows from early on, possibly around 8 weeks old. I did when DS was 6 months and what a game changer this was. I finally figured out when he was actually tired thanks to this. This led to a lot less crying, fighting sleep and him being grumpy and overtired.

Atm your baby needs mum most because they're so, so little. The mum carried him and he recognises her as his home if that makes sense, it's an instinct. But the more skin to skin you do with him and perhaps counter-intuitively, the more you engage eg in bath time, the more he will get used to you. My husband felt awfully upset I was the only person who could make DS chuckle for months and now I think he actually favours his daddy in that regard 😄 Hang in there & get yourself over to a GP if you feel you're really struggling. xx

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CallmeMrsPricklepants · 27/08/2022 22:36

It's worth saying that my DC have cmpa and my first screamed inconsolably for weeks. No one told us it was not normal and it shook dh and I to the core. So if you have any inkling that the crying isn't normal baby crying then do consider it. I wish someone had told us earlier.

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Justasec321 · 27/08/2022 23:59

DH and I cried our eyes out for the first good few weeks. All of what you describe.

would it help if you think
of the baby as just having had a huge trauma? One we have all had. Leaving the comfort and security of the womb to come I to a loud, huge, bright terrifying world.

the only way for a baby to communicate is to cry. When she cries and you are trying to console find your voice - talk non stop. Tell her stories. Or sing. keep at it.

EVERYBODY goes through it at some stage or other.

keep at it.

As someone up thread said - don’t check out.

the very best of luck.

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Justasec321 · 28/08/2022 00:01

PS - I found that standing near a running tap helped with crying. Weird I know but worked somewhat with my three.

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Feetache · 28/08/2022 00:33

All normal. Massive adjustment. One that's not talked about

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SL80 · 30/08/2022 12:37

These feelings are all totally normal and much more common than you think. I went through this exact stage of feeling regret, anger and most of all I was hating myself for feeling like it so was a vicious circle. As all have said it does get easier, but it can take a while so you just need to hang on in there. It took me till my little one was about 8 or 9 months before I started to really feel like a 'Dad' and it's because our little one really started to develop their character and interraction and curiousity for things. I really enjoyed it when she started to walk....many friends warned me that once she was walking I would wish she was not but I really like chasing her about, playing hide and seek. Okay it can be exhausting but its just better with her having a bit more independence rather than needing to be held all the time!

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stevetaylor20 · 08/11/2022 01:54

Yea it's crap dude. No idea why people have children. Normal I reckon for a guy to feel weird after, I had the same just push on through it. I honestly do think if it gets tougher, having an hour with a therapist with ur Mrs would be worth it, prob be good for your relationship as therapist are good as getting to the problem asking the right questions.

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