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I feel like I'm raising a strangers baby
20

ecnatsid · 14/05/2022 07:19

I have a wonderful 9 month old. Unfortunate circumstances meant I couldn't take maternity leave, so was back after 2 weeks. This was mentally and physically challenging for me, but DH was able to take time off to look after baby until dc reached nursery age 4mo.

I have an older child, I have an amazing bond with - I think due to the time we had together, maternity leave followed by furlough and some opportunities to work from home.

I haven't had any of this with new baby. I love them, more than anything and care for them in the exact same way I care for older child but I just feel like they're not my baby. I know they are, but I feel like they look through me. There isn't the same feeling, I don't know their queues as well as other DC. They don't reach out for me, they cry a lot with me. I'm feeling as though I'm failing them, I don't know where I'm going wrong. Even when they're settled and happy, they don't seem to want to be around me much.

Idk how to shake this feeling. I've been very open about this to my mum and DH, both just tell me DC loves me (which I don't doubt) but I just feel as though something is missing.

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MooseBreath · 14/05/2022 08:03

This sounds like it's so hard for you. Such a difficult situation, and I'm sorry you were put in this position.

That said, you will eventually be able to make that bond. Most dads don't get much paternity leave and do make a connection with their child, do that's the upside. But I think you need to accept that it is different this time than it was with your firstborn (not your fault, and you are still a good mum!).

Can you set aside half an hour each day specifically for your baby where your husband can handle your other child and the house, so you are focused 100% on bonding time?

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Needaholidayplease · 18/05/2022 13:37

I felt this way for a long time OP, this kind of disconnect and distance between me and my baby. It was strange, I knew I loved him, but I couldn't quite believe he was mine.
Did you have a traumatic birth? That can make a huge difference to the bonding process (which is definitely a process, rather than an instant thing). Please dont feel bad for feeling this way - so many women do.
Do you think you could speak to your GP about it? When I had problems bonding I had therapy to help me come to terms with the birth, and also did some work with a 'play' therapist, to help us bond.
It was a long process but really worth it, and now we're thick as thieves. There's no shame in asking for help if you need it. You could also try things like having a bath with your baby, or just spending some quality time with them one to one. WIshing you the best of luck

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Seeline · 18/05/2022 13:47

I think you need to stop comparing DC2 with DC1. Part of this may be that you haven't been able to spend as much time together. It could also be that DC2 is their own little person, with a completely different personality and would therefore behave in a totally different way. I know my two behaved, responded and reacted completely differently.

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mumsys · 18/05/2022 18:43

@ecnatsid be kind to yourself. In the long run it will all work out fine. Although most fathers don’t take any long paternity leave, children end up having a good relationship with them if they are good and loving parents. What you are feeling is mom guilt and pressure society puts on women to be the main care giver for their children.If it makes any difference, I know many people who grew up with their grandparents in early years due to family circumstances and still had a fantastic relationship with their parents. In fact they ended up being the main care giver for their parents in their old age while siblings who were showered with more parental attention refused to be involved. As long as your DC is growing up in a loving, caring, safe environment that is all that matters.
Also as PP suggested , check in with your GP to rule out stress and PND.

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MolliciousIntent · 18/05/2022 19:36

I think given the circumstances the way you feel is very understandable. Are you able to take any leave now? SPL is for the first 52 weeks of baby's life, not sure whether you can take that now? Or can you take an extended period of AL? Some dedicated time to spend with your baby and establish that connection.

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RedPandaFluff · 19/05/2022 07:31

My sister told me she felt as you described, @ecnatsid - she felt awful about it, really guilty. She said that it wasn't until her DS was a year old that she started to feel a bond with him, and even then, it took a while. They're very close now. So, I think it just happens sometimes, and you started off in such difficult circumstances, it must have been so hard.

I think the 'connection' will develop eventually; just go easy on yourself in the meantime Flowers

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tumtitum · 19/05/2022 07:55

Hi OP,
I work with parents with situations like yours. Please speak to your Health Visitor or GP, there may be resources in the community (some Children's Centres do it) for various therapies to support you with bonding. It's not uncommon and there are plenty of interventions that can help you :)
If you want to DM me I'm more than happy to try and look for the relevant resources in your area to signpost you :)

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ecnatsid · 19/05/2022 13:02

Thanks everyone

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ecnatsid · 20/05/2022 08:51

I talked it through with my DH, I explained that I dread every day with DC because they scream around me and it takes exceptionally long for me to settle them, I'm struggling to the point where I've developed psoriasis. DH called me horrible.

He's later apologised, but we go round in circles. I've seen the doctor, been prescribed 50mg of sertraline. I've arranged to leave work early twice a week to pick DC up so I can have 1-1 time with him. This hasn't really helped but I assume it will take time.

He just looks through me, there's no joy in his eyes when he's with me. At this point, alls I can think about is leaving.

I spoke with my DM, she just assures me DC loves me and he is my child (I am aware of that though I just can't get that connection)

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ecnatsid · 20/05/2022 08:53

For the poster who says the problem is me comparing my DC. I am very aware they're two different children. I didn't expect them to be the same and I didn't expect the circumstances around looking after them to be the same (one was middle of lockdown, second was just outside of lockdown).

I don't compare them, I'm just struggling with finding the connection with my second child while it was so easy with my first.

I didn't think your comment was particularly helpful but thank you anyway.

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MolliciousIntent · 20/05/2022 09:03

Well done for tackling this head on OP - you deserve a great deal of credit for that, you saw a problem in your life and you've taken big, useful steps to address it.

You don't feel bonded, and there are I think two sides to that:

  1. Potential PND, probably caused by the fact that you had to leave your tiny baby so early, through no fault of your own.

  2. Lack of experience with your baby, again through no fault of your own.

    You're addressing both of these issues! You've gone to the GP, you've got meds, you're gonna be spending more time with the baby. You've got everything in place for this dark stage of your life to be coming to an end. You've got this OP!

    Now, you just need to give it time, and your best effort. I'm sure some of this lack of bond is a self-fulfilling prophecy - you feel disconnected and like he doesn't care about you so you're anxious and upset around him so he doesn't feel connected to you so you feel disconnected so he doesn't connect and on and on and round and round... It's time to brush off your acting skills and start a fake it til you make it regime. Big, OTT displays of love and praise.

    OP, you feel like this is hopeless and life-ruining, but the fact is you've already fixed it! You've got everything in place! All it needs now is time.
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Bunce1 · 20/05/2022 09:10

Have you considered Co sleeping to bond with your baby more? Controversial I know and it’s not for everyone. I Co slept with baby 2 and it was lovely. I don’t drink/smoke an we had a big bed with a side rail.

it will come. It takes time.

If you’re feeling this low, perhaps go back and speak to the gp as you may need a higher dose of setraline.

Are there any baby/toddler groups you can go to juts you two that fit with work- baby massage was my first thought? Or swimming. Lots of physical closeness for both.

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MolliciousIntent · 20/05/2022 09:18

Bunce1

Have you considered Co sleeping to bond with your baby more? Controversial I know and it’s not for everyone. I Co slept with baby 2 and it was lovely. I don’t drink/smoke an we had a big bed with a side rail.

it will come. It takes time.

If you’re feeling this low, perhaps go back and speak to the gp as you may need a higher dose of setraline.

Are there any baby/toddler groups you can go to juts you two that fit with work- baby massage was my first thought? Or swimming. Lots of physical closeness for both.

If you've got a baby who's happily sleeping independently, it's pretty shitty parenting to regress them to make yourself feel better!

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MuchTooTired · 20/05/2022 10:07

I’m not saying you have pnd, but this is exactly how I felt when I had pnd. I knew I loved my DTs, but didn’t feel it. Hell, I didn’t even feel like their mother until they were 12 weeks old! I was convinced we’d not bonded, DD in particular (slightly traumatic entrance to the world) and I’d dread every day because of the crying and boredom.

Sertraline was magical for me, it brought my world back to colour again. I was hit in the face with love for my babies (they were around 8 months I think) and whilst it took a while to get the right dosage for me, things just started getting better and better.

It’s a horrible way of feeling, but you’re doing a great job and have been really brave seeking help. I was too much of a chicken to mention it for a very long time. I rationalised my feelings by thinking my brain chemicals were out of whack from the masses of hormones I’d had and then lost rather than blame my atrocious mothering and bullying myself. Took some time to feel confident about it, but I slowly got there!

Good luck 💐

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Swayingpalmtrees · 20/05/2022 10:29

I immediately thought of PND too when I read your message.

In your shoes, I would take a week off (even if it meant being signed off) and I would take you and the baby away for a week to sleep together, play and have that one to one time and lots of it. Take photos and get used to his little habits and quirks and enjoy getting to know him better. You need to feel better about this, and I can't think of a better way than a 247 holiday without distraction. I do this sometimes even with my older children, it is very special and can work really well. Perhaps dh and dc can join you for the last night or two?

Your baby is your priority at the moment, you are clearly suffering. At the very least this would relieve some of the (misplaced) guilt you have been feeling.

This is not your fault, but there are steps you can take to make things better. I will also raise one more thing, is your baby smiling, recognising other people? Can you see other emotions at all?

There might be other reasons

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Swayingpalmtrees · 20/05/2022 10:31

Don't just assume it is you Flowers

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Bunce1 · 20/05/2022 13:30

MolliciousIntent

Bunce1

Have you considered Co sleeping to bond with your baby more? Controversial I know and it’s not for everyone. I Co slept with baby 2 and it was lovely. I don’t drink/smoke an we had a big bed with a side rail.

it will come. It takes time.

If you’re feeling this low, perhaps go back and speak to the gp as you may need a higher dose of setraline.

Are there any baby/toddler groups you can go to juts you two that fit with work- baby massage was my first thought? Or swimming. Lots of physical closeness for both.

If you've got a baby who's happily sleeping independently, it's pretty shitty parenting to regress them to make yourself feel better!

Interesting you call it a regression. Judge
much?

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MolliciousIntent · 20/05/2022 13:55

@Bunce1 going from sleeping independently to being dependent on a parent to sleep is a regression, that's not a judgement it's just a factual statement. It's fine if that's what the child needs, regressions are normal, but doing it for the parent's benefit isn't really ok.

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CountessOfSponheim · 20/05/2022 14:05

How long have you been on sertraline? Have you discussed the fact that there hasn't been any improvement with your GP (or whoever prescribed it)?

This really does sound like PND (the "feels like someone else's baby" is an absolutely textbook description of one type of presentation) and often you need to try several different medications, and/or various doses of a medication, for them to start working.

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UpToMyElbowsInDiapers · 20/05/2022 14:10

My mind also went straight to PND when I read your post, and I’m so glad that you spoke with your GP about this - well done.

It also sounds to me like you might be feeling some guilt about not having time with your baby in the early days, consciously or unconsciously, and this might be making you project certain signs of detachment on your baby that aren’t really there. E.g., the baby crying a lot with you… some babies just cry a lot! I’ve got plenty of friends who took a full-year mat leave who have had trouble settling their babies at various stages. I also found 9 months kind of a weird phase with my 3 DCs. Like, they weren’t as cuddly as newborns and DEFINITELY didn’t need me to the same extent, but also weren’t very communicative, so I kind of felt like we didn’t have much of a relationship from about 8 months to 24 months. Once they started talking, then I felt like I really could get to know them deeply, rather than going through the motions of looking after them.

I know it’s hard, but try to be kind to yourself. Lots of mums around the world have to go back to work very quickly after having a baby. It’s bloody difficult, and you’re an absolute legend for holding things together for so long! Instead of feeling like you cheated your baby out of a maternal relationship, focus on the fact that you provided for your family when your family needed you to, and you gave you DP a chance to step up as a dad. Lots of research has shown that dads who take extended leave in the early days feel like more competent parents, more egalitarian partners, and have stronger familial bonds even when the kids are in their late teens, than dads who go straight back to work. What I’m saying is, you’ve given your baby and your DP and incredible gift here. And don’t worry about “mending” your own bond, because all of society is pretty much geared towards mothers still being the primary parent. You’ll get waaaay more chances than a typical working dad would.

The fact that you’re worrying about this shows how loving and in-tune a mother you are. You’re going to be ok.

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