Sharing feelings

My son and his wife and baby have been having some good days, but today it all came crashing down! They're in Australia and I'm here trying to support by 'phone! My daughter in law said she like to have lunch at home with my son and the baby. Almost as soon as they got home she needed to go back to hospital and said she didn't think she could be a Mom. My son took her back, she just got out of the car and went in through the doors without a word or backward glance.

My son is now at home, on his own with their baby. He's distraught, scared and exhausted. We've been on the phone for an our while he fed and changed the baby and we chatted.

He said that his wife feels that she'll never be able to cope, that the baby isn't bonding with her but is bonding with my son. She's scared and so unsure of herself, and I know that's the illness as well as being a new Mum. She thinks that my son is coping fine, but he's not .... he's panicking about loosing his wife, about coping on his own, about the fact that sometimes he wishes they'd never decided to have a child, about the fact that he wants to turn the clock back. He understands that these are 'normal' new parent thoughts. What he doesn't know is, should he let his wife know how hard it is for him, at the moment he's trying to keep things upbeat and relaxed, when underneath he's in turmoil. He doesn't want to add to her worries. I keep thinking if she knew how hard it was for him too, she'd maybe not feel so useless and may even make her feel better? I don't know!

He's responding to her needs and the babies needs, but nobody seems to have noticed that his needs are being ignored.

I suggested that he asks his wife's parents to have their baby tonight, although this will be the second night and he's a bit anxious about that. I feel that he's just so tearful and anxious that he needs space and time to 'regroup'. I suggested he drops the baby off with them, gets a good meal, catches up with his chores (he's been worrying about all the washing that's accumulating etc.), relax and try to focus on a better day tomorrow.

Help!! Is that the right advice? I think he's having his worst day so far and I know we're only 3 weeks into this, so it's probably to be expected and very early days, it doesn't make me any less scared for them all.

I am trying to get a flight out there for Monday I am booked to go in 12th but today just feel I should be there now!

Any advice, gratefully received

Thanks!

23 Replies

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  • Hello Diptfordblue

    It must be so hard for you to hear your son so distressed over the phone. I think that's a good suggestion to give him a break and let baby have a sleepover at his wife's parents' house tonight. Also when he arrives he could sit down and talk for a while and share how difficult it is with them rather than rushing back to do his chores. I think the more he can offload his stress with family, the better he will feel.

    Your daughter-in-law is not herself at the moment. She doesn't mean to upset anyone but is under the influence of medication and PP so it is very hard for her. She will doubt her ability to care for your grandchild and has a lot of negative feelings about herself. It does take a lot of patience. I don't think he should tell his wife how hard it is for him as she won't really take it in. She's battling a very traumatic time in her life and I think your son is doing well to keep his feelings in check.

    I have read from my notes how difficult it must have been for my husband and family. It's as if I was a completely different person as my behaviour was so out of character. I would shout and argue and was very suspicious of everyone. One minute I would be fine and the next I would kick off.

    Try to reassure your son that he hasn't lost his wife, she's fighting against PP and it's not easy for her. It is very early days as you have said but in her own time she will fully recover but can't be rushed. It is a frightening illness but you are doing all you can so remember to take care of yourself too. I hope you manage to book an earlier flight as it will put your mind at rest if you are there to help.

  • Thanks for your reply. It's good to have another perspective on things. My son is seeing his wife's Dr tomorrow to get some professional advice. I think that's the missing piece for him, there are people caring for his wife, she's safe and being looked after, he's caring for the baby and the usual checks are being made by Health Visitors but nobody is giving him advice on what to expect, how to react, how to help someone with PPP be as involved as possible with the childcare etc.

    He's rushing between home and the hospital, so everything is under pressure.

    There is certainly a lack of advice for new Dads and he so worried about getting things wrong!

  • Hi Diptfordblue,

    I had PP in 2012 and spent a month in a mother and baby unit. I’ve just caught up on your posts.

    It must be so hard for you being so far away from your son while this is happening and listening to his distress from such a distance. I too hope you can get out there soon as it must be such a worry and strain.

    I think PP is immensely hard on partners, and family – as you say the baby is being cared for and the mum is being cared for and is safe.

    As lilybeth has said, your daughter in law isn’t herself and her behaviour at the moment is all tied in with her illness.

    I distinctly remember before I had my first bit of leave home from the MBU the psychiatrist telling me that it would be perfectly normal to want to come straight back to the unit. After the worst of the psychotic symptoms had gone I was terribly confused, anxious and paranoid. Although I didn’t want to be there and was desperate to get better and get back home, the MBU was a place of safety, calm and routine, the outside world was a scary place. I’m sure your son was devastated by your daughter in law’s reaction but I think that ‘flight’ instinct is very normal for her state of mind – the unit probably feels like a bit of a sanctuary. PP completely crushes your confidence – you feel like a shell of your former self and all that confidence has to be rebuilt. I was breastfeeding until the point of becoming ill and when I ‘came round’ my son was on formula – making up a bottle, sterilising, and the precise way it all had to be done in the unit were HUGE challenges for me, my brain was so confused, trying to remember how many scoops of formula I’d put in the bottle was next to impossible. Similarly changing a nappy and all of these ‘simple’ parenting tasks were a great cause of anxiety. In contrast, it looked to me like my husband was taking it all in his stride and that was really hard; I was going to be such a good mum and now I couldn’t do the simplest thing… I too worried my husband was bonding better with our son and that I’d never get to grips with any of it. Of course now I know how hard it was on him, and how it wasn’t easy at all and he was just doing what he had to do, but I don’t think I would have believed him at the time. It’s really important that your son is able to share his feelings, he’s lucky he has you to talk to (though I’m sure that is then a burden for you in turn) and it sounds to me like you are giving him very good advice and support. Perhaps when he’s ready he could find support on this forum from others who have been in his situation.

    Your son may well be the only person your daughter in law trusts right now, so if he’s able to just continue putting on that strong front, when she’s a bit stronger she’ll see things more clearly – psychosis seriously alters your perception and whatever he says or does now I would imagine will get twisted anyway. So gentle, supportive, reassuring words and acts are what I would advise. Her confidence will grow, she will get better, and she will want to come home and stay home – it all just takes time.

    Sending you very best wishes, J x

  • Oh thank you so much! I did mention this web site to my son, but he said he just didn't have time to sit down and do anything like this. Which I understand, so I shall continue to post and pass on all these excellent pointers and positives.

    It was especially interesting to consider how my daughter in law must have felt coming home! It must be very scary, she must seem really vulnerable at home, no safety net!

    Thank you so much for taking the time to respond! It certainly seems that there is light at the end of the tunnel, even though it's a good distance away at the moment.

    Best wishes and thanks to you xx

    Diptfordblue x

  • Sorry to hear this is so hard for you all and I cannot imagine how difficult it must be being separated by miles and miles.

    When I was hospitalised (admittedly with my baby) I was so exhausted and in such a mess myself that I think it would have made it worse to hear how others were struggling. This is so far removed from my usual character, but the illness did do strange things. My family called it the mini break through when I started to ask and show an interest in the rest of the family. I think your son is best confiding in you and the rest of the family in terms of his true feelings. And would be best avoiding in some ways showing how he really is to his wife. But agreed it would help your daughter in law to know that she's missed and needed, something to get better for. The more time she can stay with the baby the better and be supported to take care of him/her. Are their mother and baby units in Australia?

    She will get there, sometimes it felt as though it was all bad days for me... but looking back things were getting better, just slowly and in little steps. Leaving the hospital is a big step in itself, next time maybe it'll be a little longer and gradually her confidence will come. I'm still working on mine six months from coming out of hospital. But I'm so much better than I was.

    As my mum has said to me several times, "this too shall pass".

    Sending my best wishes and thoughts to you all. Take care and safe journey to Australia.

    REvans x

  • Dear Diptfordblue,

    welcome to this forum. You are a very brave lady and you try your utter most to comfort your son from the distance. It is so difficult when you can not be with your loved ones.

    I have had PPP in 2010 and I was crying out for my mum, who was in Germany at the time. My mum popped over to the UK for 3 days and had to leave again, because she just could not cope seeing her daughter in a psychiatric mixed gender unit and in so much turmoil and 'mental distress'. There is no regret, anger or blame.

    It was my partner, who was the rock in my life. Visiting me daily, looking after the baby and communicating with everybody involved at the time such as the crisis team and the professionals at hospital.

    A support network with my partner's parents was established and once I came out of hospital a care plan was designed, so that everybody involved could help our unique little family to get through these very difficult times. I was allocated a care-coordinator.

    My partner had to be so terribly strong and his company was extremely supportive. He has had paid leave for 6 months and then was working part time for another few months, which helped the both of us to gradually working towards my independence and trying to familiarise myself with a routine in order to look after my baby.

    When my partner needed time-out his parents stepped in. It was especially difficult when I was 39 days in hospital. There has been carer support, but I do not believe it was of great value to my partner. My partner had some counseling via the company.

    My partner did not access a forum, but he researched about the illness and was an expert in all the drugs I had to take. He was amazing in trying to protect me from the outside world and my home was my sanctuary, where I could regain my strengths. He helped me to gain back my confidence and re-learn all the skills I had lost including my dignity. After 8 months I managed to drive my baby to play group sessions and other organised activities. I recovered from PPP and weaned off medication within one year. My son is nearly 7 years old and my partner and I are a very strong bond!

    Wishing you a lot of strengths. Keep in touch. This forum has a wealth of experience about PPP with women, who are kind and caring.

    Bye for now, safe journey.

    Sabine :-)

  • Hi Diptfordblue, I've been reading your posts and am so glad that the shared experiences are helpful to you.

    I know when I had pp in 2009 my husband's parents were a really help to him and it sounds as though this is also the case with you. It will be a relief when you can see him I'm sure and I hope you can get the earlier flight sorted out.

    Take care and please keep writing here if you'd like. We've been there and come through it, just like your family can too. Thinking of you all, xx

  • Thankyou for sharing and asking here!

    Which part of Australia are they in? I'm in Sydney.

    Www.panda.org.au is the best resource here in Australia, for you, hubby, mum and everyone.

    There is a support phone line, where hubby can call and get the support that he needs, while he is exhausted caring for mum and baby.

    Is she in a mother baby unit, or a general hospital facility.

    LoveDEb

  • Hi thanks for all the support. It has been so needed these last few days have been particularly difficult.

    I have put my son in touch with Panda, he's in Queensland and there isn't a Mother and Baby unit close by. My daughter in law is In a private hospital now, she was originally in a secure unit. She gets to see the baby every day, has been able to go out and is feeding and caring for the baby much more now. She even sent me a picture of her with the baby today using the baby sling I sent them. Thought it might help give a bit of security for them all; especially as my son was struggling at home single handed and they all three seem to love it. So that's good. It's hard at this distance to know what's the right thing to do.

    I think my son may well use Panda at a future date, just at the moment he doesn't seem to have time to think about any additional things.

    We had a long phone chat in the middle of the night last week and I suggested taking up his in laws offer of taking the baby for a night every now and then, which he has done, that should help to give him a little more breathing space. We'll also be there too soon so can offer help and support.

    So today things seem a little brighter. We are just days away from flying out there now. So. Fingers crossed. I will take you all with me, if that's ok!?!

    Thanks to everyone. Thinking of you all with your own personal struggles too. Best wishes

    Diptfordblue xx

  • Hello Diptfordblue

    Good to hear that things seems a little brighter. Slowly but surely your daughter in law will recover. Like many of us, whether it was a mother and baby unit or general psychiatric care, it did become a sanctuary and safe place to be away from the routine of everyday until we grew stronger.

    I'm glad you don't have too much longer to wait to support your son and hold your precious grandchild for the first time I'm sure, as a mum in Australia suggested, PANDA will be a good resource. We will all be with you in spirit and here if you need us.

    Take good care of yourself. Rest as much as you can before the long journey. xx

  • Thank you so much! I can't tell you how much you have all helped me over the last couple of weeks, I feel exhausted with worry and you seem to have been the only people I have been able to talk to who have any understanding! How hard it must have been for you all.

    I'll keep in touch an let you know how things progress.

    I don't think I said in my posts, but I have the most beautiful granddaughter and I am so excited to meet her after having long 'phone calls chatting and singing to her while my son made up feeds or bathed her, I hope she's not shocked when she gets to meet me in the flesh!!🤓

    Xxx many thanks

    Diptfordblue

  • I remember what a relief it was for me when by chance I read in the local press about APP. From then on, over the years, I have been supported and able to share experiences with this brilliant band of mothers who all went the extra mile to recover for the love of their children.

    I have also been blessed to have grandchildren and it meant so much to me when I nursed them in their early days, something I had been unable to do myself with my sons. I'm sure your grandaughter will be all smiles when you meet and your son and daughter in law will be counting the days until you land!

    Take care .... it might be stressful so take things a day at a time. xx

  • I'm so sorry you're all struggling with this cruel illness. I can only begin to imagine how hard this is for your son. Yes he must focus on his own needs and maybe it would be a good idea to see his GP? He should talk to friends too.

    I suffered from post natal depression /illness so haven't suffered from PP, however, the illness robs you of everything - confidence, self esteem, self worth - everything is hugely overwhelming for his wife atm and he must remember it's early days so seemingly small things that should be enjoyable like coming home as simply too frightening. I know that's so hard to do for your son and I understand that's for me as an outsider it's easier to take a pragmatic approach.

    I imagine his wife is probably feeling very guilty as it is so maybe saying how hard it is directly would add to that. Maybe reassuring her it's early days would help - that in time lunch at home will be manageable. Perhaps he could take a picnic into hospital so they could feel like they were doing normal everyday things in a more secure setting for her? Could he talk to the staff at the hospital?

    You're a wonderful parent and I have no doubt are making a huge difference to your son's life atmx

  • Thank you for your reply! I am so pleased I found this site! My instinct was saying that maybe if my DIL knew that my son wasn't this naturally amazing parent, she'd be a little less hard on herself. I now understand that that's fine, if you're in a rational state of mind, which she isn't at the moment. Just that simple insight has been so so useful!

    I am delighted to report that after having an awfully distressing week last week, on Sunday I got a call from my son to see if I wanted to Skype. When I answered the call, there was my son with his beautiful wife who was olding our beautiful granddaughter! 😍The first time I've seen her since she was born!

    My lovely daughter in law looks exhausted, but just said ...... "hey Ma, I wanted to give you a cyber hug and let you know I've managed a morning at home!!" It was like winning the lottery.

    I know that we could go backwards as well as forwards over the next weeks and months, but I'll take that positive and be very grateful for it!

    See, something else I've learned from all you lovely brave folks on here.

    God bless xxx and thanks!

  • Hello Diptfordblue

    Thinking of you and pleased you are using technology in order to be closer to your family. Skype makes all the difference!

    Wishing you well and so pleased you have found this website. It is important to share your thoughts, feelings and worries, especially when you can not be directly involved, even though you want to be there.

    Look after yourself, too.

    Safe journey,

    Sabine :-)

  • Queensland is a big place, however they have just to their first public mother-baby unit facility on the Gold Coast. A beautiful part of the world if you have to be ill!!

    Encourage your son to still take photos, especially as your daughter in law won't remember a lot of these things, she will need photos to help learn, remember and recover. Even photos of her not looking great, are better than none.

    I have no photos of myself or the baby when we were separated.

    In Queensland your best peer support is peachtree.

    peachtree.org.au/

    They will be able to connect you with other dads, other mums and other grandmas who understand :)

    loveDEb

  • Thanks for this.

    My son has been taking lots of photos and making videos too. In fact my daughter in law sent me a picture this week of my son and granddaughter both fast asleep while they were visiting her!! She just said "shshsh don't tell him!" Which was funny and very positive to see her sense of fun returning!

    We arrive next Tuesday, the family are not far from Townsville and fair distance from Brisbane though.

    Thanks for the info. Best wishes

    👍🙂Diptfordblue xx

  • Hi,

    My wife suffered from pp, many years ago now but I can honestly say that it was the most traumatic things both of us had been through!

    Luckily for both of us we had some great family support, for me though, the night my mum and dad arrived at my door, just when my whole world seemed to be crashing down, was one I remember vividly and at that moment a feeling of some relief that I want on my own.

    From reading your posts you are doing a fab job of supporting them already even if so far away.

    My wife spent nearly 12 weeks in an MBU, there were some really bad times but also the odd funny ones! I would take 1 day at a time, thinking to far ahead was just too much to worry about. On the odd occasion I forced myself to have an hour to do something I enjoy and try to take my mind off things (not so easy) but for me that's mountain biking.

    It took a fair while before we could say my wife had recovered but she did and for us we are both stronger but with an understanding and empathy for this and other close illnesses. My wife always says how even though she was fighting inside, she trusted me, a voice of support and at times of reason.

    We have a beautiful son, who's growing up too fast ;-) and loves life.

    We look back and yes it was traumatic and sometimes we get emotional, others we laugh but in the grand scheme of things, it was a small blip of time.

    The best of wishes to all of you.

  • Thank you for your reply. It means so much to us to hear how others have coped and moved on from this scary condition.

    I know our son it's counting the days until we get there; I think he just needs a hug and a nod of understanding. It must be very hard to keep up the brave face. At least he knows that whatever he says or does we would never judge him or think badly of him. I know he's an amazing son, husband and father, he just needs some reassurance.

    I think he's finding it hard to deal with some of his own fears and feelings, especially in the early hours of the morning when baby won't settle and there's nobody else there to ask their opinion or simply to share a cuppa with.

    I think that's one of the sadnesses to me that they aren't all 3 able to share this precious time properly at the moment, all credit to them though, they are working together despite everything.

    I am glad that all is working well for you and I suppose ultimately you're a father that understands when his wife says she's had a bad day. I keep thinking that my son will have such an insight into what it's like to be both Mom and a Dad and will never complain about doing his share! I do try and find a positive if I can🙂

    With very best wishes and thanks

    Diptfordblue

    (packed and ready to fly, even though it is 40 hours, bring it on!!)

  • Bon voyage! Wishing you a safe journey. I have no doubt your your son and dil will be so happy to see you and your help and support will make a huge difference. You really are a wonderful mum and grandma x

  • Welcome to Oz, Diptfordblue!

    Hoping it has brought you all great joy to be reunited, and to be able to be there for your family.

    loveDeb

  • Hi Diptfordblue, I hope you have had a safe journey and are enjoying time with your family. We are all thinking of you and wishing you the very best. Take care, xx

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