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Loss of affection for first child following birth of second

24 replies

debster · 19/02/2003 18:23

Has anyone experienced this? I have a 4 year old ds and a 4.5 month old dd. Since becoming pregnant with her I have found it increasingly difficult to feel affection for my son. He winds me up constantly to the point where I get tense just thinking about being with him. I find that he crowds me and is so demanding, more than my daughter. The situation has got so bad with us that we are being referred to the Children and Adolescent Mental Health Service by my health visitor. I have never been so ashamed by anything as I am by this. My daughter is so beautiful and all I want is to be with her. I am going back to work next week and I really resent the fact that every afternoon (after nursery) I have to be with him as well. If we could afford to pay for f/t childcare then I would but this is not an option. From next week my partner will be looking after the children and I know that not being in such close proximity to him will help but I am so upset that things have come to this. I really am at my wits end to know how this has come about. Can anyone help?

OP posts:

sobernow · 19/02/2003 18:51

This reply has been deleted

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Chiccadum · 19/02/2003 19:56

Debster, don't knock yourself, have you read the other thread recently it was called (Hate being a mother help!!!), if you read this you will see that you are most defiantely not along, and that some other mothers also go through the same feelings as you.

Do you know what the Children and Adolescent Mental Health Service do? I've never heard of them before.


EmmaTMG · 19/02/2003 20:26

I had feeling like this when DS2 was born. DS1 was nearly 2.5 years old so abit younger than yours but he just couldn't do anything right and I seemed to be telling him off for the slightest thing.....ridiculous things too most of the time. However as DS2 got older it got easier and now they are 20 months and almost 4 and if I'm honest I can't believe how lucky I am. They get on so well and really miss eachother when not together so things really have turned out well for us.
I know exactly how you feel but going by my experience it will get better. Try to include your DS in little things to help with the baby as this is what I did, even though I didn't want too I wanted the baby all to myself of the truth be told, but he'll start enjoying her as much as you, he is 'big brother' after all. What a fantasic title to hold.
I hope this helps. Take care.


aloha · 19/02/2003 20:47

I can't help but I really don't think you should be ashamed of seeing this service - I think you should be proud that you have faced up to a problem and are seeking a solution. I think that's wonderful. I also think you might find they are good at helping you find ways to enjoy your son again. I wish you all the best with getting back to enjoying your family.


sb34 · 20/02/2003 00:30

Message withdrawn


bells2 · 20/02/2003 08:53

I too have suffered massive guilt pangs over this. My 15 month old DD has always been an easy baby and a joy to be with while my 3 1/2 year old DS can be extraordinarily difficult. DD will eat literally anything while DS is absurdly fussy, DD is calm and rarely cries while DS specialises in histrionics etc etc. The way I have dealt with it is to make an extra special effort to leave DD with DH some weekends and go off and do something special with DS on his own. Inevitably he behaves like an angel on these outings and I find it helps me to focus on his good points.


PamT · 20/02/2003 09:30

At age 3-4 children tend to grow away from us anyway. They have their own friends, do their own thing at nursery/playgroup and don't need us quite so much. They also start to show a lot of behaviour that makes them hard to deal with. I have always been besotted with my youngest (when each of them were) but have found that as they have grown they become harder to dote on in the same way. Even my 3 1/2 year old baby has her moments when I find her extremely hard work and in some ways she rejects the love that I want to surround her with.

It is so much easier to be besotted with a baby who needs everything from you and doesn't answer back or misbehave. I still love all my children and though I struggle to get on with my eldest who is too much like myself I try hard not to have a favourite and make each of them feel special from time to time.


Enid · 20/02/2003 11:12

debster, I went through a stage when I did find dd1 (3) really hard work and all I wanted was to be with dd2 (same age as yours). Can I just say that it did pass and now I love dd1 as much as I ever did, in fact almost more now than before. Dd2 is now getting more demanding and I look forward to her sleeps now so that dd1 and I can cuddle up together! So what I am trying to say is that I think it comes in cycles, and that it is all part of being a mother to more than one child.

Please don't be ashamed of being referred to this service, my hv was wonderful at listening to me rambling on about how scared I was that I would never love dd1 in the same way and it really, really helped.

lots of love E x


Jimjams · 20/02/2003 11:54

I think this is very common- I remember reading an article on it Junior magazine when I was pregnant with ds2- I think a lot of it is hormonal - your hormones really make you want to protect your baby from everything and everyone- including older siblings. My relationship with ds1 did change dramatically after having ds2- it was veyr hard for him as I'm the only person who understands what he says and before ds2 was born we spent our whole time together. Now ds2 is a year and ds1 is starting to accept him and play with him and starting to forgive me. Yesterday we just sat and cuddled for a hour like the old days and Ifelt it was like the time before ds2 came along.

Enough of all this waffling- what I'm trying to say is that another baby really changes relationships but they do even out again. Four and half months after ds2 was born my relationship with ds1 was not good- he refused to come near me basically- but now everythings great- it will sort itself out. If you're interested in the Junior article it would have been published sometime aroundthe middle of 01.


marlene · 20/02/2003 12:34

Definitely don't be too hard on yourself. It's the hardest thing in the world to admit that your feelings for your child are less than 100% adoration. I went through a similar thing when my dd2 was born and now we're back on an even keel. It's interesting that you have been referred to the c and a mental health team, rather than the adult when the problem seems to be yours rather than your son's - could you have a form of PND do you think? Even if not, the hormones/fatigue element can't be underestimated. You have done the right thing to seek help. Don't forget to look after yourself and be assured, it will pass.


Clarinet60 · 20/02/2003 12:37

debster, it sounds like you have a severe version of what, as others have said, is a normal reaction to the birth of a second. I hope the CAMHS can help. I was irritated by DS1 for a while, but this soon disappeared so I've been lucky. I did, however, go through a phase in the summer when I just wanted to drive away from both of them and let someone else take over for a while. It was stress overload. I hope you get your support. I think that the passage of time really helps with this one, but that's not much comfort to you right now, I know.


debster · 20/02/2003 21:06

I truly appreciate all your comments. I was very worrid about posting on here about it because I felt so ashamed of my feelings. It was one of the hardest things to do to ring up the health visitor and admit to them. Thankfully she has been great and I didn't feel judged in the slightest. I feel so sorry for my ds as he hasn't really done anything wrong. He is disobedient, cheeky and stroppy in the same way that many other 4 year olds are. My feelings started to change towards him when I was pregnant and I suffered with SPD. Constantly in pain, very tired and going to work full time all took their toll and ds bore the brunt of it. I thought that once dd arrived things would get better but in fact they have got worse. I think PamT hit the nail on the head when she says 'It is so much easier to be besotted with a baby who needs everything from you and doesn't answer back or misbehave'. I wondered whether I was suffering from PND and the h.v. gave me the questionnaire to fill in. I 'scored' 10 points which being under the minimum 12 means I am borderline. I really hope that CAMHS can help as I cannot see how to turn things around.

OP posts:

sobernow · 20/02/2003 22:10

This reply has been deleted

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

bossykate · 20/02/2003 22:30

hi debster. well done for taking the first steps to confront this issue, that is the way to turn things around. it may also be worth exploring whether you are putting too much pressure on yourself in terms of work, dealing with the kids, housework, relationship etc. just a thought.

good luck


Clarinet60 · 20/02/2003 23:04

Let us know how you get on, debster.


zebra · 21/02/2003 09:38

When I was expecting my 2nd child everyone warned me that after the birth I would either A) hate the first child, or B) heavily resent the 2nd child or C) both. People kept telling me about newspaper articles or books they had read to say as much. Maybe because I was so heavily warned none of those happened; my feelings about 2nd baby varied were mostly vague disinterest, and eldest was a rotten little turd for a long time -- but it all seemed expected. I think what you're going thru is pretty normal Debster; just too bad nobody warned you that these feelings are so very common.


jac34 · 21/02/2003 10:55

I know this is slightly different, but before I had my DS twins, I had a lot of affection for my Step DD. As she was the only child in our lives, DH and I used to fuss over her and proberbly spoil her far too much.We were constantly thinking of interesting and fun things to do with her.
However,since having my boys 4years ago, I feel I have less and less time for her. We are usually busy with family type things on the weekends and she just has to muck in with everyone else.
I am also very aware of the difference in my feeling, for her and my own children, which I feel very guilty about.
DH and I have decided not to have anymore children(even though I would have liked another), and I think I should spend, the time I would have given to another child, to improving my relationship with my step DD, which is pretty good, but could be improved on.
I've alredy told DH, I'd rather we planned more outings as a family on weekends, instead of rushing around as much.


anto · 22/02/2003 13:52

Debster, there is some stuff on resentment of first child after birth of second in both 'Life after Birth' by Kate Figes and in 'One sock, three shoes and a Hairbrush' (think that's the title) by Rebecca Abrams. Check them out next time you are in a bookshop/libray. So you are definitely not abnormal. Well done for being so honest with yourself and for seeking help. Lots of luck with the CAMHS.


Clarinet60 · 24/02/2003 23:46

This is going completely off point and I'm not being flippant, really I'm not, but have any of you gone off your pets big style since having children? I ask because I used to be a mega-cat person, loved them like babies, but now I can't bear them in the house. I literally can not stand the sight of them. Luckily, we live on a farm so thre are plenty of other places for them to sleep, but I feel sooo guilty.
Any more like me out there?


NQWWW · 25/02/2003 11:28

A friend of mine has just had a baby boy, 2 years after her dd, and she has just admitted that she's experiencing exactly the opposite - she hasn't bonded with the baby at all and spends all her time playing with her dd, leaving ds in his moses basket for long periods. I wonder if this is because she really only ever wanted girls?

Debster, please don't feel ashamed - as others have said it strikes me that you're very brave in facing up to this, and we're all out of control of our feelings at times, especially when our hormones are all over the place and life is stressful. I'm 12 weeks pregnant and I'm finding it hard to cope with my ds at times too, which I'm entirely blaming on the pregnancy and my tiredness.

Droile - my sister was exactly the same with her 3 cats - had to give them away.


tigermoth · 25/02/2003 12:03

driole, I know what you mean re the cats. When my oldest son was born we had three, now with old age we are down to one. At times I feel all cuddled out, what with all the physical demands of children. When they are asleep I relish having no physical contact with any living thing including the cat. Luckily the children are now old enough to cuddle and even feed our remaining cat, so I can step back with no guilt.


Demented · 25/02/2003 12:23

Droile, me too. I have barely touched the cat since I was pg with DS1 (now four). From worries about toxiplasmosis to general hygene issues through to similar feelings to tigermoth that I just want to be on my own, feel quite guilty about it at times.


aloha · 25/02/2003 14:11

Jac34, I think it is normal not to love your stepchildren with the same intensity as you do your own children. I don't think anything can prepare you for the intensity of love you feel for your baby. Also, I think it is harder to really love a child who doesn't live with you so you don't build that day to day intimacy in the same way. I really admire the way you are prepared to make sacrifices to improve your relationship with your sd which sounds excellent to me anyway. I have a stepdaughter, and we do lots together, all my friends include her in Xmas gifts and cards, she is a huge part of our family and I do stuff with her I can't do with ds (cook and watch Doris Day movies, to name but two!) and I always reason that she has two parents who adore her in exactly the same passionate, visceral way I adore ds, and two step-parents who love and care for her in a slightly different way. That's a lot of people rooting for you!

On the cat issue, we recently got a kitten, though previously we didn't want pets, because my stepdaughter adores cats and ds is mad about all animals. They are totally thrilled by her, and she's a sweet little thing, but nothing compared to a child, obviously.


Clarinet60 · 25/02/2003 23:32

Phew, glad I'm not the only one. Thanks folks.

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