Soooooo worried about my cousin... how can I help her? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 21 Old 12-21-2010, 09:53 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I wasn't sure where I should post this, because it could go in Breastfeeding, LWAB, Postpartum Depression, and probably a few more....

 

I saw my cousin for the first time since September at our family's Christmas party this past weekend.  She has a little boy who will be 3 in January, and a 5-month-old girl who was born in July.

 

My cousin is struggling with this new baby.  I couldn't get the whole story, but it seems like the biggest crisis is that baby will not take a bottle... at all... and is going through some kind of sleep regression.  Therefore, my cousin hadn't left the house in, literally, weeks.  She had to quit her WAH job and she is literally stick thin.  I've never seen her so thin.

 

It was the way that she was talking that had me most concerned.  She said she was literally going crazy, she was saying things like, "What would happen if I were to end up in an insane asylum? How would the baby eat?"  She said that she has no marriage left, that she is at the end of her rope.  I know she has struggled with depression in the past, too.

 

I've never seen a new mom like this.

 

As for the baby, she was downstairs at the party for about 10 minutes when she first arrived, then she was upstairs for the rest of the time.  Periodically her mom and dad would disappear to be with her, I guess.  I'm not sure- it was busy. I never saw mom with the baby, or speak fondly of the baby.  

 

My cousin is pretty mainstream, but at the same time she did BF her son for a solid year.  I know a lot of MDC moms are probably fine with the 24/7 childcare of an infant, but my cousin is not.  She has always needed and wanted the weekly date night with her husband, etc etc etc.

 

I don't know how to help her.  I am off work until January 3, so I have some time.  But if I offer, they will turn me down.  I know they're feeling like there's nothing anyone can do, because no one else can nurse this babe.

 

They are considering weaning her cold turkey over the New Years weekend because my cousin is so frazzled.  I am surprised to say this, but I kind of think that might not be a bad idea for mom's sake.

 

How can I help?!?!?  Should I just show up?  Entertain the toddler and let mom focus exclusively on the baby?  I don't think that will help.  Show up and literally kick her out of the house??

 

I have never been so worried.  Thank you.


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#2 of 21 Old 12-21-2010, 10:13 AM
 
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I don't think just showing up is such a bad idea actually.  Show up with food.  Perhaps talk to her parents first and try to get more of the story.  Why are her parents  not helping her out?  I never gave my baby a bottle but I was still able to get out of the house for a couple of hours (like...twice, but still!!)  Just because the baby won't take a bottle is no reason why she can't leave the house.

 

It sounds like PPD to me...try to find out if she has been evaulated for that.  Its something that could come up at a well baby visit even. 

 

I think you need more info.

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#3 of 21 Old 12-21-2010, 10:33 AM
 
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Who is trying to give the baby a bottle? If the mom wants to bottle feed and still nurse, it should be someone else giving the bottle. The baby knows mom = milk and will likely refuse the bottle from her. My oldest was the only one of my three to take a bottle, and she would only do it when she was left at my mom's house while I went to work. If I was anywhere near she wouldn't.

 

The sleep thing is SO HARD. I completely understand how she is feeling. My middle child had medical issues and usually slept in 20-30 minute bursts for around a year. Of course once I was awake it wasn't so simple for me to go back to sleep. I was running on 1-2 hours of sleep a night for MONTHS. It does make you feel crazy. Has the baby been checked for things like reflux that may be making it hard for her to sleep?

 

 

ETA: It IS hard to ask for help. I ended up asking my mom and step-dad for help with my oldest. They had tried to watch my middle dd for me and KNEW there was a problem. I think that made it easier because I knew they knew I wasn't just flaking out over having to care for two. So many people don't really understand unless they've been in a similar situation.

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#4 of 21 Old 12-21-2010, 11:58 AM
 
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so, unless there's something wrong, a 5 month old can easily go 2-3 hours between nursing. going out to dinner takes 1-2 hours. I think this mom really needs to be kicked out of the house so she realizes it's okay to leave a well-fed baby with someone else for an hour or two. just that might help with some of the stress she's feeling. though it sounds like there may be several other things going on too. 


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#5 of 21 Old 12-21-2010, 12:00 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I guess everyone has tried to give baby a bottle- mom, dad, aunts. uncles, grandparents, etc.  The baby won't take it from anyone.  I tried not to pepper her with questions or just be "advice, advice, advice" when we talked at the party.... I tried instead just to be a kind and empathetic ear.  But I did ask that question, and I also asked if they have tried a variety of different types of bottles.  They have, and the baby is having none of it.  And I guess the ped was just like, "Eh.  Babies cry.  Deal with it."  irked.gif

 

It was the strangest thing when she arrived at the party.  Her DH had actually driven with both kids in a separate car, and she came on her own a couple of minutes later.  As soon as she walked in the door, all of the grandparents went over to her and started consoling her.  In the meantime, none of the rest of us knew WHAT was going on, but we knew there was SOMETHING.  Seriously, I was like, "Uh-oh, this is big."

 

And I've never seen her so THIN!

 

P.S.  Forgot to write that they've also already started the baby on solids already in an effort to make her more content.  greensad.gif


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#6 of 21 Old 12-21-2010, 02:55 PM
 
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It sounds like there might definitely be some PPD going on.  Are you able to get in touch with her dh to get his perspective?  Maybe as her partner he'd have better luck convincing her to talk to her dr about the possibility of PPD.  I had 2 babies who never would take a bottle and one who woke every half hour to hour for the first year or so of his life.  I still managed to get out of the house... occasionally without the baby too.  The sleep deprivation was rough and pretty crazy making, but it sounds like there is more going on in your cousin's case than just that.

 

Poor her.  I hope she gets some help soon.  I don't think you'd do wrong to show up with food and offer to help.  Hold the baby... take the baby out for a walk maybe.  Or, like you said, entertain her older child.  It kind of sounds like she needs more help than that, but you certainly might as well try doing what you can, yk?


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#7 of 21 Old 12-21-2010, 04:06 PM
 
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It does sound like there is some PPD.  However, I also think some of it is that maybe she just needs to learn that you can go out WITH a baby and even breastfeed in public and have a perfectly normal social life.  I know, I would definitely become depressed if I ever went weeks without leaving the house.  

 

Maybe you don't want to go to a bar or anything, but you can certainly go on walks and the playground and the mall and restaurants and museums  and bookstores and all sorts of places.  If she can't leave the baby with grandma, she can at least leave the older child and go out to eat with hubby.  None of my kids ever took a bottle, yet we've all gotten out of the house on practically a daily basis since birth. 

 

Would it be possible for you to take her (and the baby) places....ask her to come shopping with you or out to get coffee or on a lunch date. Maybe gently encourage her to bf in public or in front of you.  


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#8 of 21 Old 12-21-2010, 04:55 PM
 
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I second what amelia said about encouraging her to GET OUT, even with her babe.  My son and I go out just about every.single.day.  It is important for my sanity!  Also, has anyone tried feeding her breastmilk out of a cup, syringe, or sippy while mom is away?  Some babies will take a cup over a bottle. 

 

Also, I agree with the PP that said that a healthy, normal child her age should be able to go without nursing for a couple of hours.  Someone could come over during baby's happiest time of day and hang out with her for just a little while so that mom and dad can get brunch or dessert or just take a walk around the block all by themselves!


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#9 of 21 Old 12-21-2010, 05:02 PM
 
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I hope she feels better soon! :(

 

Have they all been trying the same type of bottle? When I needed AJ to take a bottle, he refused the ones we had. I had to make a midnight run to Walmart for different ones. He still will refuse to drink from any other bottle..He just won't do it.
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Belia View Post

I guess everyone has tried to give baby a bottle- mom, dad, aunts. uncles, grandparents, etc.  The baby won't take it from anyone.  I tried not to pepper her with questions or just be "advice, advice, advice" when we talked at the party.... I tried instead just to be a kind and empathetic ear.  But I did ask that question, and I also asked if they have tried a variety of different types of bottles.  They have, and the baby is having none of it.  And I guess the ped was just like, "Eh.  Babies cry.  Deal with it."  irked.gif

 

It was the strangest thing when she arrived at the party.  Her DH had actually driven with both kids in a separate car, and she came on her own a couple of minutes later.  As soon as she walked in the door, all of the grandparents went over to her and started consoling her.  In the meantime, none of the rest of us knew WHAT was going on, but we knew there was SOMETHING.  Seriously, I was like, "Uh-oh, this is big."

 

And I've never seen her so THIN!

 

P.S.  Forgot to write that they've also already started the baby on solids already in an effort to make her more content.  greensad.gif



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#10 of 21 Old 12-21-2010, 05:20 PM
 
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Call her up and ask her what kind of food she likes best. Then make some and take it over.

 

It definitely sounds like PPD to me. I had PPD with both my kids and it's hell. I was able to get treatment early and it was effective (and yes it was meds -- the small risk of meds vs. the known risk of mom being depressed was definitely worth it). When you're there offer to take the baby and 3 year old for a walk so mom can rest/get out. Collect information about local resources for PPD and bring it with you. PSI (postpartum support international) is a good place to start. If they're receptive, leave the info.

 

If it helps, I was a WOH after 5 months with dd. She was home with dh. She never really took the bottle. She reverse cycled. She'd eat 2-5 ounces while I was gone, and then she'd nurse pretty much all evening and all night. So is possible for a baby to go a few hours without food. I'd be more worried about her extreme thinness affecting her milk production.


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#11 of 21 Old 12-21-2010, 05:50 PM
 
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I was in school practically full time when DD was around that age and she never took a bottle, sometimes she would drink an ounce but rarely more than that. She would make up for it by nursing a ton at night. A  baby won`t let themselves starve so if the Mom is gone for a few hours at night and misses a feeding I don`t think that is awful. If mom is at her breaking point then she needs to get out a leave baby with a bottle whether or not baby will willingly drink it.

 

I have really been struggling to maintain my weight while nursing. If I stop working hard to eat  regularly and a lot then my weight seems to drop. Even with work I am still quite skinny. If I was depressed I would probably be a skeleton at this point because eating well requires motivation. If she is nursing full time and prone to losing weight from nursing plus losing her appetite from depression may result in extreme thinness.


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#12 of 21 Old 12-21-2010, 05:50 PM
 
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Help her learn how to breastfeed in public. She needs help for her depression too, big time. Try to get the baby to take solids and drink from a sippy cup. Only one of my 5 children even took a bottle. The rest did better with sippy cups (and not the kind that restrict the flow). I think the mom needs someone to come in to her home, and help her. She needs to leave the room when someone is trying to feed the baby something that is not breastmilk. Even though I delayed solids myself, I would say it would be worth trying in this case, if that is all the baby will take.

 

But overall, the mom needs help, emotionally. Maybe even medically. And, while I hate to bring this up, but if motherhood affects her like this, I am thinking maybe she should be considering permanent birth control. It just seems that these sorts of things only get worse with each baby and I would hate to see how depressed she would end up with the next child.

 

Good luck!

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#13 of 21 Old 12-21-2010, 06:06 PM
 
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i have a thought i don't think anyone has mentioned. but especially because of her thinness maybe she should have her thyroid levels checked? that could probably make ppd a lot worse and could even cause depression. i hope she feels better soon it sounds awful.

 

 


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#14 of 21 Old 12-21-2010, 06:23 PM
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You can give her the gift of time.  Have her BF the baby, hand you the baby, and go take a nap. 

 

I'd just show up, personally, and maybe with something yummy to eat.  Some people just need to be forced to accept help.

 

I don't understand how weaning would work if the baby will not take a bottle?

 

At 4 mos my DS was able to drink out of a cup.  We put milk in a tiny flexible plastic cup (like the kind that come on top of medicine bottles) and just slowly poured it into his mouth.  (he took a bottle just fine - I was just curious to know if he would do it).  That, or a syringe would work.

 

Good luck!

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#15 of 21 Old 12-21-2010, 06:48 PM
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A 5 month old should be able to drink out of a cup. Try different ones, sippy, straw, open.

And I would also agree that I think mum needs to get out more, with or without baby. Do offer to go over and keep her company, help out with older child, washing, whatever. suggest to go out together to a cafe, or a play area where older child can play.
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#16 of 21 Old 12-21-2010, 06:52 PM
 
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My middle child would not take a bottle at all, no matter what it had in it, he ended up starting solids early and reverse cycling.  Starting solids early is not the worst thing in the world and it might help this mom.  With her ppd and weight issues she might really NEED to stop nursing this baby.  I don't know exactly how that would work but as important as nursing and being comforted at night are they are not as important as having a sane, live mother who is in decent health.  It sounds like she is resenting this baby and needs to get away from her for a little while.

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#17 of 21 Old 12-21-2010, 07:25 PM
 
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Everyone's advice is pretty right on so I have nothing to add.  But I feel so bad for your cousin, she must be beyond fried right now greensad.gif

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#18 of 21 Old 12-21-2010, 07:32 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mama_daba View Post

i have a thought i don't think anyone has mentioned. but especially because of her thinness maybe she should have her thyroid levels checked? that could probably make ppd a lot worse and could even cause depression. i hope she feels better soon it sounds awful.

 

 



yeah, I would talk to her DH about getting her into her doctor and having blood work done, and if everything comes back normal, getting her in to see a counselor that specializes in PPD. Offer to make some phone calls and do some ground work.

 

Having both had PPD and having a child who didn't do what all the books said they should, I believe the best thing you can do is practice non-judgment. The mom is doing the best she can. The dad is doing the best he can. The baby is doing the best she can. The situation is just overwhelming. Listen, take food, do a load of laundry, keep the older  child accompanied, but don't pass judgment on ANYTHING they try.

 

PPD is a life threatening illness. It's far better for that baby to keep her mommy but be left cry or be feed solids or pretty much anything else.

 

And having been at the end of my rope, suggestions from people who didn't have clue were not welcome. Help. Be kind. Don't assume that you have an easy answer.


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#19 of 21 Old 12-22-2010, 07:37 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by camracrazy View Post

The sleep thing is SO HARD. I completely understand how she is feeling. My middle child had medical issues and usually slept in 20-30 minute bursts for around a year. Of course once I was awake it wasn't so simple for me to go back to sleep. I was running on 1-2 hours of sleep a night for MONTHS. It does make you feel crazy. Has the baby been checked for things like reflux that may be making it hard for her to sleep?

Yes. Really, lack of sleep can start to make you paranoid. It becomes hard to make decisions or even to do small things - like take a shower or buy groceries - when you're radically sleep deprived. Even if you could watch the baby while she sleeps for 6 hours, that should help tremendously. When DD was little, I would sleep one evening a week and one "shift" on the weekends to stay stable.
 


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#20 of 21 Old 12-22-2010, 08:04 AM
 
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I so feel for her! My daughter is high needs. Not only did she not take a bottle. She wouldn't go to anyone but me. She would scream to the point of throwing up when even Daddy took her. She also woke up several times a night. Still does actually. Thank goodness for co-sleeping, and side lying nursing! If it weren't for that, and having a very understanding husband who would do what he could while home to help. I don't think I would have survived.

 

I would suggest just going over, bring food, offer to help her clean, watch the older kiddo so she can go lay down with the baby, and just give her someone to talk to. She is probably getting just all sorts of advice about what she should do. She probably feels like she is up to her ears in it. Let her just talk it out with you. Then if she turns to you, and asks what she thinks she should do you can offer her some gentle advice.


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#21 of 21 Old 12-24-2010, 10:55 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by midnightmommy View Post

 She probably feels like she is up to her ears in it. Let her just talk it out with you.


this. when things were crazy bad after my 2nd child was born, when people offered advice what I heard them saying was that they didn't understand how bad things were, they didn't understand how many things I'd already tried, and they felt that if only I would do things *right*, it would be easy.

 

When you talk to her, practice active listening so she feels heard. Don't offer solutions. She's already heard them. She's already tried them.

 

IMHO, only offer suggestions if she ASKS for them.

 

 


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